Analysis of surgical smoke produced by various energy-based instruments and effect on laparoscopic visibility

Kyle J. Weld, Stephen Dryer, Caroline D. Ames, Kuk Cho, Chris Hogan, Myonghwa Lee, Pratim Biswas, Jaime Landman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Purpose: We analyzed the smoke plume produced by various energy-based laparoscopic instruments and determined its effect on laparoscopic visibility. Materials and Methods: The Bipolar Microforceps, Harmonic Scalpel, Floating Ball, and Monopolar Shears were applied in vitro to porcine psoas muscle. An Aerodynamic Particle Sizer and Electrostatic Classifier provided a size distribution of the plume for particles >500 nm and <500 nm, and a geometric mean particle size was calculated. A Condensation Particle Counter provided the total particle-number concentration. Electron microscopy was used to characterize particle size and shape further. Visibility was calculated using the measured-size distribution data and the Rayleigh and Mie light-scattering theories. Results: The real-time instruments were successful in measuring aerosolized particle size distributions in two size ranges. Electron microscopy revealed smaller, homogeneous, spherical particles and larger, irregular particles consistent with cellular components. The aerosol produced by the Bipolar Microforceps obscured visibility the least (relative visibility 0.887) among the instruments tested. Particles from the Harmonic Scalpel resulted in a relative visibility of 0.801. Monopolar-based instruments produced plumes responsible for the poorest relative visibility (Floating Ball 0.252; Monopolar Shears 0.026). Conclusions: Surgical smoke is composed of two distinct particle populations caused by the nucleation of vapors as they cool (the small particles) and the entrainment of tissue secondary to mechanical aspects (the large particles). High concentrations of small particles are most responsible for the deterioration in laparoscopic vision. Bipolar and ultrasonic instruments generate a surgical plume that causes the least deterioration of visibility among the instruments tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-351
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of endourology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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