Surgical Smoke: Putting the Pieces Together to Become Smoke-Free

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Volume 107, Issue 6 - June 2018
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Surgical Smoke: Putting the Pieces Together to Become Smoke-Free


Surgical smoke is generated when tissue vaporizes from the use of various energy-generating devices (eg, electrosurgery units, lasers). Surgical smoke contains toxic gases and vapors that can be hazardous to patients and perioperative staff members. In addition to ocular and upper respiratory tract irritation, surgical smoke can have mutagenic potential. Although many regulatory agencies agree that surgical smoke is dangerous, they have been slow to commit to a firm standard to address the inhalation hazards related to surgical smoke. With the clear evidence supporting the need to filter surgical smoke, perioperative nurses and surgical Technologists at our facility implemented a plan to protect patients and staff members. The plan included identifying and evaluating in-house equipment and the perceived barriers to becoming smoke-free. Perioperative personnel tested multiple smoke evacuating products to determine which best met the needs of our staff members and facility, and our ORs are now smoke-free.

Key words: surgical smoke, smoke evacuation, smoke-free, smoke plume, electrosurgical pencil.