Minimising airflow turbulence in the OR

Surgical site infections constitute a huge healthcare burden worldwide and prevention requires an integrated approach. This article considers the role of surgical light design in optimising air quality and minimising airflow turbulence in theatres, through aerodynamic research.

Surgical site infections (SSIs) constitute a huge healthcare burden worldwide and remain one of the most challenging complications to treat. Airborne particles carrying harmful microorganisms, which settle on skin and instruments, are responsible for the majority of these infections. Prevention requires an integrated approach; one that involves paying careful consideration to a variety

of factors, including operating room design and air quality.

Healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) are a significant challenge for hospitals around the world. More than four million patients are estimated to acquire a healthcare- associated infection in the EU each year and approximately 1.7 million in the US are affected annually. The prevalence of HCAIs in Europe is around 7.1 %.1

SSIs – caused by microbial contamination of surgical wounds and one of the most common causes of serious surgical complications – account for up to 16% of all HCAIs.2

It is estimated that one out of

every 20 patients undergoing surgery will develop an SSI.3

This can be caused by

a variety of patient-related (endogenous) and procedure-related (external) factors, such as age, duration of procedure, and inadequate sterilisation of instruments. The rate of surgical wound infections is strongly influenced by operating theatre quality, too.4 This includes air quality, which research shows can, in turn, be influenced by other factors such as surgical light.5

This makes

the prevention of SSIs particularly complex. Finland-based operating room equipment manufacturer, Merivaara, believes surgical light design could provide the answer to this age-old issue. Designed and manufactured in Finland, the company’s Q-Flow surgical light has been engineered, based on advanced research, to prevent the risk of HCAIs. “Significant progress has been made in


Q-Flow surgical light in operation

preventing HCAIs in recent years. However, they still affect millions of patients worldwide, constituting a significant economic burden for health systems, increased morbidity and longer hospital stays. The surgical light, Merivaara Q-Flow, was developed to fight this issue,” Jyrki Nieminen, director of R&D at Merivaara, explained.

Preventing airborne transmission “In today’s operating rooms, clean air enters the room through inlets in the middle of the ceiling, while dirty air is removed through outlets in the corners. By means of efficient air circulation, harmful bacteria can be kept away from patients undergoing open surgery,” Nieminen commented. Studies have shown that the air of the operating theatre represents an important vehicle for contaminating micro-organisms.6 During surgical procedures, airborne micro-organisms, including dust particles, skin scales and respiratory aerosols, which derive mainly from people present in the

operating theatre,7 are released into the

surrounding air. These can either fall directly into the wound or on exposed surfaces, such as instruments and theatre attire, and thus be transferred into wounds to cause infection. The type of procedure and instruments used can all influence the risks of transmission. Prevention relies, therefore, on a multidisciplinary, integrated approach. Today, laminar airflow ventilation systems, designed to displace contaminated air away from the operational site are a common feature in many operating theatres, which aim to prevent airborne transmissions. The ventilation system is only one of a myriad of factors that can effectively contribute to a safe operating environment, but it too can be impacted. Merivaara hopes to bring to light the influence that surgical lights have on laminar airflow and, thus, infection prevention.

Nieminen commented: “Managing airflow has long been a way to effectively limit infection risks during surgical procedures.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80