Purpose: Released particles are a major risk of airborne contamination during surgery. The present prospective study investigated the quantitative and qualitative particle load in the operating room (OR) depending on location, time of surgery and use of laminar air flow (LAF) system.
Methods: The particle load/m(3) was measured during the implantation of 12 total knee arthroplasties (6 x LAF, 6 x Non-LAF) by using the Met One HHPC 6 + device (Beckmann Coulter GmbH, Germany). Measurement was based on the absorption and scattering of (laser) light by particles and was performed at three different time-points [empty OR, setting up, ongoing operation) at 3 fixed measurement points [OR table (central LAF area), anaesthesia tower (marginal LAF area), surgical image amplifier (outside LAF area)].
Results: Independent of time and location, all measurements showed a significantly higher particle load in the Non-LAF group (p < 0.01). With ongoing surgical procedure both groups showed increasing particle load. While there was a major increase of fine particles (size < 1 mu m) with advancing activity in the LAF group, the Non-LAF group showed higher particle gain with increasing particle size. The lowest particle load in the LAF group was measured at the operating column, increasing with greater distance from the operating table. The Non-LAF group presented a significantly higher particle load than the LAF group at all locations.
Conclusion: The use of a LAF system significantly reduces the particle load and therefore potential bacterial contamination regardless of the time or place of measurement and therefore seems to be a useful tool for infection prevention. As LAF leads to a significant decrease of respirable particles, it appears to be a protective factor for the health of the surgical team regardless of its use in infection prevention.
Level of evidence: I.