OBJECTIVE: To investigate small-particle aerosolization from mastoidectomy relevant to potential viral transmission and to test source-control mitigation strategies. STUDY DESIGN: Cadaveric simulation. SETTING: Surgical simulation laboratory. METHODS: An optical particle size spectrometer was used to quantify 1- to 10-µm aerosols 30 cm from mastoid cortex drilling. Two barrier drapes were evaluated: OtoTent1, a drape sheet affixed to the microscope; OtoTent2, a custom-structured drape that enclosed the surgical field with specialized ports. RESULTS: Mastoid drilling without a barrier drape, with or without an aerosol-scavenging second suction, generated large amounts of 1- to 10-µm particulate. Drilling under OtoTent1 generated a high density of particles when compared with baseline environmental levels (P < .001, U = 107). By contrast, when drilling was conducted under OtoTent2, mean particle density remained at baseline. Adding a second suction inside OtoTent1 or OtoTent2 kept particle density at baseline levels. Significant aerosols were released upon removal of OtoTent1 or OtoTent2 despite a 60-second pause before drape removal after drilling (P < .001, U = 0, n = 10, 12; P < .001, U = 2, n = 12, 12, respectively). However, particle density did not increase above baseline when a second suction and a pause before removal were both employed. CONCLUSIONS: Mastoidectomy without a barrier, even when a second suction was added, generated substantial 1- to 10-µm aerosols. During drilling, large amounts of aerosols above baseline levels were detected with OtoTent1 but not OtoTent2. For both drapes, a second suction was an effective mitigation strategy during drilling. Last, the combination of a second suction and a pause before removal prevented aerosol escape during the removal of either drape.
Subject(s)Aerosols/adverse effects , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Transmission, Infectious/prevention & control , Ear Diseases/surgery , Mastoidectomy/methods , Otologic Surgical Procedures/standards , Personal Protective Equipment , Cadaver , Comorbidity , Ear Diseases/epidemiology , Humans , Mastoid/surgery , Otologic Surgical Procedures/methods , SARS-CoV-2
There are insufficient data regarding the safety of otologic procedures in the setting of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Given the proclivity for respiratory pathogens to involve the middle ear and the significant aerosolization associated with many otologic procedures, safety precautions should follow current recommendations for procedures involving the upper airway. Until preoperative diagnostic testing becomes standardized and readily available, elective cases should be deferred and emergent/urgent cases should be treated as high risk for COVID-19 exposure. Necessary otologic procedures on positive, suspected, or unknown COVID-19 status patients should be performed using enhanced personal protective equipment, including an N95 respirator and eye protection or powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR, preferred), disposable cap, disposable gown, and gloves. Powered instrumentation should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, and if performed, PAPR or sealed eye protection is recommended.