Air quality in the operating room; can it be done more efficiently and differently?

News - 10 June 2021 - Communication BK

The air in an operating theatre is continuously refreshed with HEPA filtered air. The idea is that this prevents infections. For many years, air treatment systems have been used to purify the air in almost every operating theatre in the same way for every type of procedure. Scientists from various scientific disciplines, including Peter Luscuere of Architecture and the Built Environment, investigate in the Medical Delta Living Lab Research OR whether this can be done differently, better and more efficiently.

The researchers do this by measuring the air quality, both microbiological and dust-technical, during operations. A novelty, because normally the air quality is only analysed in such a way when an operating theatre is at rest. Therefore, it is still insufficiently known what the influence on the air quality is of, for example, surgical teams walking back and forth, equipment that is in use or doors that open and close.

A variety of disciplines come together in the research. Jos Lans does doctoral research and is daily engaged in the consulting and installation of air treatment systems from his work for the company Medexs. Promoters are surgeon Prof. Maarten van der Elst (RdGG / TU Delft) and technical researcher Dr. John van den Dobbelsteen (TU Delft). Both are scientific leaders of the Medical Delta Living Lab Research OR. Prof. Peter Luscuere of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment is also closely involved in the research as supervisor, involving all relevant aspects: technology, healthcare practices and the environment. In addition, the LUMC is involved in the research. It is special that not only care, technology and industry come together in this research, but also the architectural and installation design of the operating theatre is included.

Energy saving

From the point of view of energy saving, there may be methods of maintaining air quality with less energy. According to Peter Luscuere, there is a lot of potential. “It may well be that for certain types of procedures with a low risk of infection, the ventilation knob does not have to be opened all the way in order to still achieve the necessary air quality. Continuously refreshing the air in an operating theatre takes an enormous amount of energy, so that can quickly contribute to a greener OR.”

More information