THE RISK OF EYE SPLASH INJURIES IN SURGERY

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Abstract

Background:

This study arose out of a concern about the transmission of infectious diseases through eye splash injuries in surgery. The purpose of this study was to identify the extent of the risk of eye splash injuries.

Methods:

A prospective trial was undertaken which examined 160 consecutive eye shields used by surgeons and assistants in operations of 30 min or longer. The shields were inspected for macroscopic splashes and then tested for microscopic splashes using reagent strips.

Results:

Of the 160 eye shields used in surgery, 71 tested positive for blood (44%). The surgeon was aware of a spray episode in only 13 cases (8%). The splashes were macroscopically visible in only 26 (16%) cases. The risk of eye splash was higher for the surgeon than for the assistants and increased with the length of the operation.

Conclusions:

This study demonstrates that the risk of eye splash injury in surgery is much greater than that perceived by most surgeons and trainees. Eye protection should be mandatory for all personnel in the operating theatre, particularly for those directly involved with the operation.

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