Potential dangers associated with smoke generated during electrosurgery have been described. However, the use of smoke management in dermatology is unknown. There is no objective data showing the amount or the composition of the smoke generated in dermatologic surgeries.
To assess the use of smoke management in dermatologic surgery and provide data on the amount and chemical composition of surgical smoke.
A total of 997 surveys were sent to dermatologic surgeons across the United States to assess the use of smoke management. Amounts and concentrations of particulates and chemical composition were measured during electrosurgery using a particulate meter and the Environmental Protection Agency-standardized gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis.
Thirty-two percent of the surgeons responded to the survey, and 77% of the respondents indicated no use of smoke management at all. Only approximately 10% of surgeons reported consistent use of smoke management. Active electrosurgery produced significant amounts of particulates. In addition, surgical smoke contained high concentrations of known carcinogens, such as benzene, butadiene, and acetonitrile.
Surgical smoke contains toxic compounds and particulates. Most dermatologic surgeons do not use smoke management within their practices. Raising the awareness of the potential risks can help increase the use of smoke management.