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Surgical smoke plume is a potentially dangerous by-product generated from the use of energy-based devices such as laser and electrosurgical units. Approximately 95% of all surgical procedures produce some form of surgical plume (Surgical Smoke Plume – Connecting the Dots, 2011). However, shockingly few health care facilities have hard-set requirements when it comes to implementing systems to reduce exposure to smoke plume.
Despite smoke plume often being more harmful than smoking cigarettes, over time a false sense of security has developed that the smoke generated from laser surgery isn’t that harmful. Smoke plume is filled with toxic gases, vapors, and dead and live cellular matter which can include blood fragments and viruses. Particles generated by surgical energy devices can be smaller than 1.1 microns in size, meaning they are capable of bypassing the nasopharynx and trachea and can be deposited into the alveoli, the gas exchange regions of the lungs. Even the human papillomavirus (HPV) or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have the potential to be detected in laser plume.