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Lookup NU author(s): Peter Hodgkinson
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© 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.
Author(s): Joseph M, Permain M, Hodgkinson PD
Publication type: Letter
Publication status: Published
Journal: Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
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
PubMed id: 34991973