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How Dangerous Is Surgical Smoke?
The foul-smelling plume can cause long-term harm to staff and surgeons.
Brenda Ulmer
Publish Date: September 19, 2014   |  Tags:   Staff Safety
harmful surgical smoke BREAK THE HABIT Surgical smoke is as harmful to your health as smoking cigarettes.

Would you let your surgeons and staff light up a cigarette in the middle of a procedure? Didn't think so. But surgical smoke is just as harmful, with research showing that ablating 1 g of tissue is equivalent to smoking 3 to 6 unfiltered cigarettes. It's time to kick the surgical smoking habit by testing your knowledge of the dangers that lurk in the OR air.

Surgical smoke and aerosols are created by the use of ______.

a. lasersc. electrosurgery
b. ultrasonic devicesd. all of the above

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A chemical found in surgical smoke that has been identified as a trigger for leukemia, is ________.

a. acroleinc. toluene
b. benzened. formaldehyde

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According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), surgical smoke should be evacuated and filtered _________.

a. whenever it is produced
b. when HIV/HPV is suspected in the patient
c. when room suction is not working
d. whenever the surgeon feels it is necessary

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Smoke generated during laparoscopy that is absorbed by the patient can elevate certain variants of normal hemoglobin. What can this cause?

a. changes in the patient's level of anesthesia
b. difficulties in achieving hemostasis in the patient
c. falsely elevated blood pressure readings
d. falsely elevated pulse oximeter readings

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Standard surgical masks, as opposed to high-filtration masks, filter particles that measure _________ in diameter.

a. about 5 centimeters
b. less than 1.1 micrometers
c. about 5 micrometers

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— NO SMOKING It's important to use a smoke evacuator during any surgery that produces plume.

What percentage of surgical smoke particles measure less than 1.1 micrometers in diameter?

a. under 15%c. about 50%
b. about 30%d. more than 75%

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The most effective smoke evacuators have a 3-stage filtration system that includes a _________________.

a. pre-filter, HEPA filter and charcoal filter
b. pre-filter, ULPA filter and charcoal filter
c. pre-filter, Alta filter and microfiber filter
d. pre-filter, ULPA filter and soda lime filter

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Inhaled smoke plume particles less than 2 micrometers in diameter are deposited in the __________.

a. bronchioles and alveoli
b. nose and pharynx
c. trachea and bronchus

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The smoke produced by high-frequency electrosurgical units is _______.

a. not as harmful as laser plume, and doesn't need to be evacuated
b. as harmful as laser plume, and evacuation is recommended
c. not as harmful as laser plume, but should be evacuated
d. as harmful as laser plume, and evacuation is mandated

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Which of the following is one of the health effects of repeated exposure to surgical smoke?

a. eye, nose and throat irritation
b. fatigue
c. allergies
d. all of the above

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