Published results showed orthopedic surgeons are at risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss and permanent hearing loss due to damaging decibel levels in the OR.

Stephanie A. Kwan, DO, and colleagues prospectively reviewed 300 intraoperative audio recordings from the following six orthopedic subspecialties: adult reconstruction, foot and ankle, hand and wrist, shoulder and elbow, spine, and sports medicine.

Researchers compared decibel (dB) levels of intraoperative recordings with dB levels of preoperative recordings, which served as baseline controls. Researchers also analyzed the maximum dB level (MDL), defined as the highest sound pressure level during the measurement period, and time-weighted average (TWA), defined as the projected average dB level for more than 8 hours, according to the study.

At preoperative baselines, mean MDL was 84.8 and mean TWA was 33.4 dB. During surgical procedures, mean MDL was 99 and mean TWA was 60.8 dB. Mean MDL was 102 for adult reconstruction procedures; 96.6 for foot and ankle procedures; 97.1 for hand and wrist procedures; 99.8 for shoulder and elbow procedures; 101 for spine procedures and 96.9 for sports medicine procedures.

At preoperative baselines, noise doses were a mean of 0% with a projected noise dose of 0.48% at 8 hours. During surgical procedures, noise doses were a mean of 2.52% with a projected noise dose of 8.32% at 8 hours. Mean noise dose was 3.13% for adult reconstruction procedures; 0.37% for foot and ankle procedures; 0.08% for hand and wrist procedures; 0.97% for shoulder and elbow procedures; 2.63% for spine procedures and 0.31% for sports medicine procedures. Researchers noted microdiscectomy was the procedure with the highest noise dose, which reached 11.3% of the maximum allowable daily noise and a projected dose of 104.1% at 8 hours.

“The most obvious contributors to noise in the OR include powered instruments, such as saws, drills and suction devices. These instruments have been documented to reach dB levels of 85 to 142 and are regularly utilized in orthopedic procedures,” the researchers wrote in the study.

“The present results showed that orthopedic surgeons are regularly exposed to damaging noise levels putting them at risk for permanent hearing loss. Further investigation into measures to mitigate noise exposure in the OR and prevent hearing loss in orthopedic surgeons should be undertaken,” they concluded.

Article originally appeared on Healio


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