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Chaitra Jayadev, Thirumalesh Mochi Basavaraj, Khushboo Pandey, Roven Pinto, Shashi Prabha Pandey, Saptarshi Basu, Abhijit Sinha Roy, Rohit Shetty; Risk Assessment of Aerosol Generation During Vitreoretinal Surgery Using High Speed Imaging Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2021;10(12):17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.12.17.
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The purpose of this study was to discuss the propensity of aerosol and droplet generation during vitreoretinal surgery using high speed imaging amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an experimental set up, various steps of vitreoretinal surgery were performed on enucleated goat eyes. The main outcome measures were visualization, quantification of size, and calculation of aerosol spread.
During intravitreal injection, insertion of cannulas, lensectomy, and vitrectomy with both 23 and 25-gauge instruments, with either valved or nonvalved cannulas, aerosols were not visualized which was confirmed on imaging. Although there was no aerosol generation during active fluid air exchange (FAE), there was bubbling and aerosol generation at the exit port of the handle during passive FAE. Under higher air pressure, with reused valved and fresh nonvalved cannulas, aerosol generation showed a trajectory 0.4 to 0.67 m with droplet size of 200 microns. Whereas removing cannulas or suturing under active air infusion (35 mm Hg and above) aerosols were noted.
Based on the above experiments, we can formulate guidelines for safe vitrectomy during COVID-19. Some recommendations include the use of valved cannulas, avoiding passive FAE or to direct the exit port away from the surgeon and assistant, and to maintain the air pressure less than or equal to 30 mm Hg.
In the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk from virus laden aerosols, as determined using an experimental setup, appears to be low for commonly performed vitreoretinal surgical procedures.
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