• Written By:
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Oculoplastics/Orbit

    Using responses from an online questionnaire, this study characterized the frequency, causes and possible risk factors of operating room (OR) fires.

    Study design

    The authors distributed an online questionnaire to 698 members of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS).


    Of the 258 surgeons who responded to the survey, 83 (32.2%) reported that they had experienced at least 1 surgical fire during their career.

    Most OR fires occurred during monitored anesthesia (78.7%) or supplemental oxygen underneath surgical drapes (74.1%). Most fires ignited from cautery on monopolar (42.6%) or battery-powered disposable (47.2%) devices.

    Injuries were limited to singed facial hair in 51% of cases. Almost 15% of cases had first degree burns, and 2% had second degree burns. No visible trauma was seen in 32.4% of cases.


    The response rate was low (39.8%) and the study questionnaire was not very specific.

    Clinical significance

    Surgeons should be cognizant that OR fires can happen and should be prepared to prevent or manage them. Use of any cautery instrument, supplemental oxygen or monitored anesthesia care during surgery increases the risk of an OR fire.