Background: Aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMPs) are common during newborn resuscitation. Neonates with respiratory viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection may pose a risk to healthcare workers. International guidelines differ on methods to minimize the risk due to limited data.
Objective: We examined the expiratory airflow dispersion during common neonatal resuscitation AGMPs using infant simulators.
Methods: Expiratory airflow dispersion in term and preterm manikins was simulated (n = 288) using fine particle smoke at tidal volumes of 5 ml/kg. Using ImageJ, we quantified dispersion during common airway procedures including endotracheal tube (ETT) and T-piece ventilation.
Results: Maximal expiratory dispersion distances for the unsupported airway and disconnected uncuffed ETT scenarios were 30.2 and 22.7 cm (term); 22.1 and 17.2 cm (preterm), respectively. Applying T-piece positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) via an ETT (ETTPEEP ) generated no expiratory dispersion but increased tube leak during term simulation, while ventilation breaths (ETTVENT ) caused significant expiratory dispersion and leak. There was no measurable dispersion during face mask ventilation. For term uncuffed ETT ventilation, the particle filter eliminated expiratory dispersion but increased leak. No expiratory dispersion and negligible leak were observed when combining a cuffed ETT and filter. Angulated T-pieces generated the greatest median dispersion distances of 35.8 cm (ETTPEEP ) and 23.3 cm (ETTVENT ).
Conclusions: Airflow dispersion during neonatal AGMPs is greater than previously postulated and potentially could contaminate healthcare providers during resuscitation of infants infected with contagious viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. It is possible to mitigate this risk using particle filters and cuffed ETTs. Applicability in the clinical setting requires further evaluation