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Combined transurethral resection and vaporization of the prostate produces smoke harmful to eyes, skin and respiratory system

San Francisco, CA, May 31, 2010–Surgical smoke is a common byproduct of certain procedures including combined transurethral resection and vaporization of the prostate. This smoke contains toxic chemicals, including some explosive and harmful carcinogens, according to a new study from researchers in the Republic of Korea. These data, to be presented during the 105th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA), will be shared with the media on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. PDT.

Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), investigators analyzed smoke samples from six combined prostatic resection/vaporization procedures. The smoke contained a variety of chemicals, including 1,3-butadiene, vinyl acetylene, ethyl acetylene, 1-pentene and acrylonitrile, which are very toxic and known carcinogens. Several chemicals produced by the smoke can cause central nervous system depression and skin, eye and respiratory irritation.

Researchers suggest that, “a higher quality filter mask, smoke evacuation device, and/or smoke filter should be developed for safety for operating personnel and patients undergoing transurethral resection surgery.”
“This is certainly an occupational hazard that urologists and operating room personnel working with urologists may be exposed to more often than they would like. Ascertaining the degree to which this exposure may contribute to any ill effects in those people who are exposed will require further study,” said Anthony Smith, MD, an AUA spokesperson. 

NOTE TO REPORTERS: Experts are available to discuss this study outside normal briefing times. To arrange an interview with an expert, please contact the AUA Communications Office at the number above or e-mail

About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 16,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients.

Wendy Isett, AUA