Classification of aerosol-generating procedures: a rapid systematic review


In the context of covid-19, aerosol generating procedures have been highlighted as requiring a higher grade of personal protective equipment. We investigated how official guidance documents and academic publications have classified procedures in terms of whether or not they are aerosol-generating. We performed a rapid systematic review using preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses standards. Guidelines, policy documents and academic papers published in english or french offering guidance on aerosol-generating procedures were eligible. We systematically searched two medical databases (medline, cochrane central) and one public search engine (google) in march and april 2020. Data on how each procedure was classified by each source were extracted. We determined the level of agreement across different guidelines for each procedure group, in terms of its classification as aerosol generating, possibly aerosol-generating, or nonaerosol-generating. 128 documents met our inclusion criteria; they contained 1248 mentions of procedures that we categorised into 39 procedure groups. Procedures classified as aerosol-generating or possibly aerosol-generating by ≥90% of documents included autopsy, surgery/postmortem procedures with high-speed devices, intubation and extubation procedures, bronchoscopy, sputum induction, manual ventilation, airway suctioning, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, tracheostomy and tracheostomy procedures, non-invasive ventilation, high-flow oxygen therapy, breaking closed ventilation systems, nebulised or aerosol therapy, and high frequency oscillatory ventilation. Disagreements existed between sources on some procedure groups, including oral and dental procedures, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, thoracic surgery and procedures, and nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabbing. There is sufficient evidence of agreement across different international guidelines to classify certain procedure groups as aerosol generating. However, some clinically relevant procedures received surprisingly little mention in our source documents. To reduce dissent on the remainder, we recommend that (a) clinicians define procedures more clearly and specifically, breaking them down into their constituent components where possible; (b) researchers undertake further studies of aerosolisation during these procedures; and (c) guideline-making and policy-making bodies address a wider range of procedures.

Authors: Tanya Jackson, Danika Deibert, Graeme Wyatt, Quentin Durand-Moreau, Anil Adisesh, Kamlesh Khunti, Sachin Khunti, Simon Smith, Xin Hui S Chan, Lawrence Ross, Nia Roberts, Elaine Toomey, Trisha Greenhalgh, Isheeta Arora, Susannah M Black, Jonathan Drake, Nandana Syam, Robert Temple, Sebastian Straube
; Full Source: BMJ open respiratory research 2020 Oct;7(1):e000730. doi: 10.1136/bmjresp-2020-000730.