Procedural Precautions and Personal Protective Equipment during Head and Neck Instrumentation in the COVID-19 Era
Background: Otolaryngologists represent a subset of healthcare workers uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission. Given the segmentation of extant guidelines concerning precautions and protective equipment for SARS-CoV2, we aimed to provide consolidated recommendations regarding appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in head neck surgery during the COVID-19 era.
Methods: Guidelines published by international and United States governing bodies were reviewed in conjunction with published literature concerning COVID-19 transmission risk, testing, and PPE, to compile situation-specific recommendations for head and neck providers managing COVID-19 patients.
Results: High-quality data regarding the aerosolization potential of head and neck instrumentation and appropriate PPE during head and neck surgeries are lacking. However, extrapolation of recommendations by governing bodies suggest strongly that head and neck mucosal instrumentation warrants strict adherence to airborne-level precautions.
Conclusion: We present a series of situation-specific recommendations for PPE use and other procedural precautions for otolaryngology providers to consider in the COVID-19 era.