Clinical evidence based review and recommendations of aerosol generating medical procedures in otolaryngology – head and neck surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background Aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMPs) present risks to health care workers (HCW) due to airborne transmission of pathogens. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential for HCWs to recognize which procedures are potentially aerosolizing so that appropriate infection prevention precautions can be taken. The aim of this literature review was to identify potential AGMPs in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and provide evidence-based recommendations. Methods A literature search was performed on Medline, Embase and Cochrane Review databases up to April 3, 2020. All titles and abstracts of retrieved studies were evaluated and all studies mentioning potential AGMPs were included for formal review. Full text of included studies were assessed by two reviewers and the quality of the studies was evaluated. Ten categories of potential AGMPs were developed and recommendations were provided for each category. Results Direct evidence indicates that CO2 laser ablation, the use of high-speed rotating devices, electrocautery and endotracheal suctioning are AGMPs. Indirect evidence indicates that tracheostomy should be considered as potential AGMPs. Nasal endoscopy and nasal packing/epistaxis management can result in droplet transmission, but it is unknown if these procedures also carry the risk of airborne transmission. Conclusions During the COVID-19 pandemic, special care should be taken when CO2 lasers, electrocautery and high-speed rotating devices are used in potentially infected tissue. Tracheal procedures like tracheostomy and endotracheal suctioning can also result in airborne transmission via small virus containing aerosols.


  • Thamboo, Andrew
  • Lea, Jane
  • Sommer, Doron
  • Sowerby, Leigh
  • Abdalkhani, Arman
  • Diamond, Christopher
  • Ham, Jennifer
  • Heffernan, Austin
  • Cai Long, M
  • Phulka, Jobanjit
  • Wu, Yu Qi
  • Yeung, Phillip
  • Lammers, Marc

publication date

  • December 2020