Surgical Smoke

Get clinical answers to frequently asked questions about surgical smoke safety.

  • How close to the surgical site should the smoke evacuation wand be?

    The capture device, either the wand or the tubing, should be positioned as close to the surgical site as necessary to capture all of the surgical smoke.

    Resources:

    • Guideline for Surgical Smoke Safety. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated October 21, 2016

  • Can HPV be contracted from surgical smoke?

    Several studies demonstrated a low risk of transmission of human papilloma virus (HPV) and subsequent infection, but there are four documented case reports of occupational transmission of HPV.

    Resources:

    • Guideline for Surgical Smoke Safety. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated October 21, 2016

  • Is a smoke evacuator necessary on procedures where there is very little smoke?

    No, a medical-surgical vacuum system (ie, wall suction) may be used to evacuate small amounts of surgical smoke. The health care organization's policy and procedures should define the criteria for using wall suction versus a smoke evacuator.

    Resources:

    • Guideline for Surgical Smoke Safety. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated October 21, 2016

  • Is a smoke evacuator needed on laparoscopic procedures?

    Yes, a smoke evacuation system is needed on minimally invasive procedures. Smoke evacuation during minimally invasive procedures increases visibility of the surgical site, decreases the delays associated with clearing the smoke from the cavity, and decreases absorption of smoke by-products (eg, carbon monoxide) by the patient.

    Resources:

    • Guideline for Surgical Smoke Safety. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated October 21, 2016

  • Does OSHA mandate the evacuation of surgical smoke?

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a specific standard that requires the evacuation of surgical smoke. Under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that is "free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees."

    Resources:


    Updated October 21, 2016

  • What is a workplace free of recognizable hazards?

    A workplace free of recognizable hazards is a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard.

    Resources:

    • Guideline for Surgical Smoke Safety. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated October 21, 2016