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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361


DE SILVA, R. et al. Risk of blood splashes to the eye during surgery. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2009, vol.47, n.1, pp.7-9. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: With the advent of a new infectious era involving the HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses, concern has arisen about transmission of these viruses through ocular blood splashes during surgery. The purpose of the study was to determine the risk of ocular blood splashes to surgeons and their assistants during surgery. METHOD: Surgeons and assistants in several surgical disciplines were requested to wear facemasks with a transparent plastic visor. The visors were collected postoperatively and inspected for macroscopic and microscopic blood splashes. RESULTS: Fifty-nine per cent of the surgeons and assistants refused to wear facemasks with a visor. The incidence of blood splashes in those who participated was 45%. There was a trend for blood splashes to be more common during major surgery and during elective surgery. Surgeons and assistants were subject to similar risk. CONCLUSION: This study confirms the significant risk of ocular blood splashes during surgery, while also suggesting that both surgeons and assistants lack appreciation of the risk.

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