Protecting surgical forces with effective filtration

Electrosurgery produces smoke that is hazardous to health. With good filtration solutions, we ensure that this is extracted at source and that the surgical air is clean.

Minimal incisions and bleeding, gentle procedures, shorter operating times: the benefits of electrosurgery and minimally invasive techniques are well known and proven. Almost every operating theater in the world has a high-frequency surgical unit that is used to perform this type of procedure. However, electrosurgery in particular has a side effect that the staff must be particularly protected from.

This is because the thermal destruction of tissue during operations with a laser or electrosurgical unit produces smoke. And this affects around 90 percent of all surgical procedures, including common operations such as caesarean sections, appendectomies, gall bladder removal and joint replacements. And this smoke is not only unpleasant, but also dangerous, as it can contain toxic gases and vapors such as benzene, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde or even viruses and bacteria.

On the one hand, this smoke has an unpleasant odor; on the other, it irritates the upper respiratory tract and eyes of operating theatre staff and can even cause visual impairment. And the fact that we are talking about a really big problem here is illustrated by one figure alone: 1,200,000

In Europe, around 1.2 million surgical staff are exposed to surgical smoke.

That's 1.2 million people who need to be protected in their daily work1 so that they don't suffer long-term damage. Surgical nurses already report twice as many respiratory problems as the general population.

The daily exposure to surgical smoke for OR staff is equivalent to inhaling the smoke from an average of 27 to 30 unfiltered cigarettes. We want to prevent this with our filtration solutions and protect urgently needed healthcare staff.

Dr. Sebastian Stühle

Dr. Sebastian Stühle

Head of Business Unit Healthcare at Hengst Filtration

27 to 30 unfiltered cigarettes a day2, an extremely high number. This makes it all the more important to actively protect surgical staff and patients from smoke. The surgical mask used, like an FFP2 mask, is not sufficient protection on its own, as an FFP2 mask only filters particles such as viruses and bacteria, but not gases such as benzene. A ventilation system is also not sufficient: The smoke must be captured where it is generated.

This is best achieved with a smoke extractor and an effective filter - at least to HEPA standard (High Efficiency Particulate Air), the inlet of which is located as close as possible to the surgical site or source of smoke. An activated carbon adsorber to reduce odors is also recommended.

We ensure a safe and smoke-free environment for healthcare staff and patients

As filtration specialists, we at Hengst Filtration are committed to effectively purifying the air in operating theaters and keeping it clean. This is why we developed the filtration concept for a five-stage Exhaust gas filter for electrosurgery with one of our customers.

We can reliably filter out 99.99995% of all particles down to a size of 0.1 μm up to the ULPA-16 standard. To protect staff and patients during interventions close to patients, the incoming and outgoing air is effectively filtered of viruses, bacteria and harmful gases. The high-performance filters can also be equipped in accordance with DIN EN 1822 to EPA, HEPA or ULPA standards, for example with activated carbon media for harmful gas adsorption and special membrane technology for moisture separation.

Effective filtration, good air, comprehensive protection for people in the operating room. So that the operating room staff can concentrate on the really important things: Patient treatment and recovery.

If you would like to know more about our smoke gas filters, please contact our colleague Frank Wübben:

Frank Wübben

Sales Manager Healthcare



  1. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, USA): Laser/Electrosurgery Plume,, 1.3.2019

  2. Hill DS, O'Neill JK, Powell RJ, Oliver DW. Surgical smoke - a health hazard in the operating theater: a study to quantify exposure and a survey of the use of smoke extractor systems in UK plastic surgery units. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2012 Jul;65(7):911-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2012.02.012. Epub 2012 Mar 23. PMID: 22445358.

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