Characterization of Experimental and Clinical Bioaerosol Generation During Potential Aerosol-Generating Procedures.Chest. 2020 12; 158(6):2467-2473.Chest
During medical procedures with the potential to produce aerosols such as bronchoscopy, intubation, or CPR, health-care workers (HCWs) may be exposed to infectious bioaerosols. This scenario is of particular concern when high consequence pathogens such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are circulating. Thousands of HCWs have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, the determinants of aerosol generation during medical procedures and their relative risk to HCWs remain poorly characterized.
The goal of this study was to characterize aerosols produced during airway intubation by using an uninfected translational animal model and in human subjects undergoing elective aerosol-generating procedures. The study also determined the particle size distribution of generated particles.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS
Aerosol generation was measured during highly controlled experimental (pig) intubations (N = 16) and elective bronchoscopies in uninfected patients (N = 49) using an optical particle counter. Recovery of normal respiratory flora was used as a surrogate for pathogen dispersion.
There was a small but significant (P = .03) decrease in 0.3 μm size particles during highly controlled pig intubations compared with baseline. The concentration of 1.0 μm and 5.0 μm aerosol particles did not significantly change, although oral bacteria were collected from the air. For elective patient bronchoscopies, there was a significant decrease in the generation of larger particles (1.0 μm and 5.0 μm) compared with baseline (P < .01); however, 18 of 39 (46%) patients showed increased aerosol production in 0.3 μm size particles, four of whom exhibited measurable increases.
Although the total amount of aerosols produced during intubation and bronchoscopy did not increase significantly relative to preprocedural levels, a small number of participants exhibited a measurable increase in submicron particle emission, meriting further research to delineate determinants of fine particle production during aerosol-generating procedures.