Orthopaedic Surgery in the Era of COVID-19 – Arthroscopic Surgery

Orthopaedic & Spine Center
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Dr. Boyd Haynes in surgeryBoyd W. Haynes III, MD

COVID-19 has caused unparalleled changes in our lives, in the way we work, play and even in the way we perform surgery.  Because the safety of the patient and the surgical team are paramount, process changes have been occurring at a rapid pace within hospitals across the country.  Some of these changes will be temporary and others will remain as the world slowly returns to “normal”.

We know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted through aerosolized droplets and the operating room is no exception.  Even though the surgical team wears special PPE, they and the patient still breathe the air in the OR. That is why it’s so important for the air in the OR to be as free of contaminants as possible.

Surgeons use pressurized gas for certain minimally-invasive surgical procedures (colonoscopies, endoscopies, laparoscopies) to open spaces in the abdomen and digestive tract for more easy access and viewing by camera during the procedure.  This is called insufflation, similar to blowing up a balloon. The downside is that this gas escapes during surgery and carries aerosolized, potentially contaminated droplets through the air of the operating room.  Even though all surgical patients are being tested for COVID-19 before their procedure, there is a potential for the virus to be present.  As a result, these types of surgeries are being resumed with great caution and concern for the safety of OR personnel. Whether or not this will be a vehicle of transmission for COVID-19 remains to be seen and will be closely monitored by hospital safety teams and the CDC.

In arthroscopic surgeries, we don’t use the process of insufflation with gas.  Instead, we irrigate and “inflate” the joint with saline solution, which allows us to easily view all joint structures and to perform whatever procedure is necessary. Because no gas is used, the saline solution does not become aerosolized for inhalation by the surgical team. The excess saline is easily suctioned away and safely disposed of after surgery.  Thankfully, now that surgeries have resumed, you can go into the OR feeling confident about the safety of your arthroscopic procedure, for yourself and your surgical team.

 

Make an appointment with Dr. Haynes or another provider by clicking the “Request Appointment” button below or by calling (757) 596-1900.