Ethicon supports SAGES guidelines for surgeries as they resume amid pandemic

June 5, 2020

As hospitals and surgeons around the country begin to resume elective surgeries postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethicon, part of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Device Companies, announced its continued support of guidelines from the Society for American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), which recommends the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and smoke evacuation in the operating room during laparoscopic and open surgery. 

Currently, there is no data on the transmission of SARS-COV-2 in surgical smoke during surgery. However, there is no indication or proof that SARS-COV-2 is not transmissible through surgical smoke. In fact, there is no conclusive evidence to indicate that use of electrosurgical or ultrasonic devices during surgery increases the risk of infectious disease transmission via surgical smoke. 

SAGES and AORN are providing recommendations to ensure the perioperative team takes measures to protect themselves from any potential unknown risk. Ethicon recommends the use of smoke evacuation to minimize the potential risk to surgical teams from potentially hazardous substances including cellular material, blood fragments, bacteria, viruses, toxic gases, vapors and chemical compounds. 

Each year, in America, approximately 500,000 OR personnel are exposed to surgical smoke, with this number estimated to be double worldwide. Surgical smoke can cause acute and chronic health effects ranging from eye, nose and throat irritation to emphysema, asthma and chronic bronchitis. 

In early April, Ethicon released a letter to customers explaining its support of the SAGES surgical guidelines and describing the theoretical risk of COVID-19 transmission through surgical smoke. The company noted that COVID-19 particles range from 60-140 nanometers (nm) in diameter and generally disperse in the form of much larger water droplets. Smoke evacuators that use an ULPA filter, such as Ethicon’s MEGADYNE Smoke Evacuators, capture and filter at least 99.999954% of particulates and microorganisms sized 120nm. ULPA filter efficiency improves with particles both smaller and larger than the listed size rating (rating range of 100-200nm). 

In addition to SAGES, smoke evacuation in the OR is recommended by industry associations including the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies has the release

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.