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OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD: Mask provides cheap, effective protection from electrocautery plumes.

CHICAGO -- Routine use of an N95 mask during electrocautery is an effective and inexpensive way for dermatologie surgeons to protect themselves from toxic, airborne particulate matter in the smoke generated during the procedure, Emily de Golian, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American College of Mohs Surgery

"Our data suggest clear dominance of N95 masks at filtering electrocautery particulate matter over commonly utilized basic procedural masks, as well as superiority to the laser masks that are used in hair removal procedures and ablative procedures in cosmetic clinics," commented Dr. de Golian, a Mohs micrographic surgery fellow at the University of California, San Diego.

This is an inexpensive protective strategy, and Dr. de Golian priced N95 masks on Amazon at 94 cents each. While that's more than the 11 cents per standard procedural mask with earloops or 83 cents for a laser mask on Amazon, it's still small potatoes considering the enhanced protection she documented in her study. Of note, all of the masks cost more when purchased from medical supply companies.

This matter of self-protection from the effects of electrocautery smoke plumes deserves greater attention from the dermatologie community, according to Dr. de Golian. There is solid evidence that these plumes contain high concentrations of known carcinogens, including benzene, acetonitrile, and butadiene --indeed, concentrations far in excess of what's found in second-hand cigarette smoke. Moreover, many of these airborne carcinogens and other toxins have been linked to leukemia, neurologic disorders, lung cancer, thrombotic disorders, lung disease, and infectious disease transmission, albeit not convincingly so to date in dermatologic surgeons. But why wait for definitive evidence to accrue?

"In light of these hazards--and according to governmental guidelines --dermatologic surgeons would be wise to adopt protective measures during surgical procedures," she said.

But they haven't. She cited a national survey conducted several years ago by a colleague in which 79% of the 316 responding dermatologic surgeons indicated they use no smoke management whatsoever, neither masks nor a local exhaust evacuation system. Only 10% employed smoke management 25%-50% of the time during electrocautery, and a scant 11% of dermatologic surgeons did so at least 75% of the time (Dermatol Surg. 2014 Dec;40[12]: 1373-7).

Given the far more substantial expense of installing an office smoke evacuation system, mask filtration becomes an attractive alternative. But the relative efficacy of the various types of masks in blocking fine and ultrafine particulate matter contained in electrocautery plumes hadn't previously been systematically studied. This created the impetus for Dr. de Golian's study

She placed N95 masks, basic procedural masks, and laser masks over the probes of two commercially available airborne particle counters, one capturing ultrafine particles less than 1 mcm in size, the other for particles greater than 2.5 mcm. She sealed the mask edges to the probes with tape to eliminate loose fit as a confounder. Then she and her co-investigators performed monopolar electrocautery on discarded surgical Burow triangle tissue specimens to order to create smoke plumes and test mask effectiveness. This process was repeated five times for each type of mask, as well as for a no-mask control condition.

The N95 masks were the clear winner, particularly when it came to filtering the ultrafine particles, which are of greatest concern because they remain suspended in air longer and penetrate deeper into the respiratory tract than larger particles. The N95 masks proved superior to procedural masks, which in turn were significantly more effective than the laser masks. The differences between mask performance for larger particle filtration were smaller, although the N95 remained No. 1. She noted that the study results probably underestimate the true filtration efficacy of N95 masks, since they form a tighter seal with the face in clinical practice than with the other two mask types.

Mask self-protection "is easily applicable in your own practice, and it meets NIOSH-recommended [National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health] standards for safety in the workplace," the dermatologist noted.

In the next phase of her research, she plans to evaluate the optimal technology and techniques of smoke evacuation in the surgical suite. That's an attractive method because it protects everyone in the room, not just the surgeon. And while the practitioner survey indicates this technology isn't widely used by dermatologie surgeons on a routine basis at present, that could change, particularly in the current era in which patient-reported outcomes and satisfaction surveys have taken on added weight.

Dr. de Golian reported no financial conflicts regarding her study, which was conducted free of commercial support.

bjancin@mdedge.com

BY BRUCE JANCIN

REPORTING FROM THE ACMS ANNUAL MEETING

Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.

Caption: Dr. Emily de Gollan
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Author:Jancin, Bruce
Publication:Dermatology News
Date:Jun 1, 2018
Words:779
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