Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

A preliminary evaluation of surgical field contamination risk from surgeon's oro-nasopharyngeal commensal organisms while using reusable FFP3 respirator masks and power hoods with relevance to the COVID 19 pandemic – A pilot study

Lookup NU author(s): Peter Hodgkinson


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


© 2021In early 2019 in the UK, concern about the risk of COVID-19 transmission to surgeons who operate near to the airway led to wide scale adoption of different masks, including valved types used in industry. It was noted early on that although these masks protect clinicians, they may represent a risk to the patient due to unfiltered air being directed towards them during close contact1 and the National Health Service circulated guidance to that effect2. Subsequently, an increased incidence of surgical site infection (SSI) was noticed, postulated to be due to contamination of the surgical field by microbial particles from valved masks or hoods leading to a National Patient Safety Alert3. A study recommended that a surgical mask be placed over the exhaust valves of these mask types4. We reviewed the literature using the key words surgical masks, power hoods, FFP3 masks and surgical site infection. Most studies showed no reduction in the incidence of SSI with surgical masks5, but some showed an increase6. There were no studies comparing bacterial contamination of the surgical site with different types of masks. A pilot study was designed to evaluate if FFP3 respirators and powerhoods allowed bacterial contamination of the surgical field in comparison with standard surgical masks and no masks. The results appeared to confirm our methodology and suggested that reusable valved FFP3 masks are associated with bacterial dissemination. Subsequent examination of these masks identified a potential mechanism for this bacterial contamination. A larger scale study is needed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Joseph M, Permain M, Hodgkinson PD

Publication type: Letter

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery

Year: 2022

Volume: 75

Issue: 3

Pages: 1261-1282

Print publication date: 01/03/2022

Online publication date: 23/12/2021

Acceptance date: 19/12/2021

ISSN (print): 1748-6815

ISSN (electronic): 1878-0539

Publisher: Churchill Livingstone


DOI: 10.1016/j.bjps.2021.12.001

PubMed id: 34991973