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British Hip Society (BHS) meeting, held online, 9–11 June 2021.


Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a common cause of preventable deafness in adults and exposure to loud noise at work is a significant risk factor for its development. In order to protect the hearing of workers in the U.K., the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, established the Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005). The objectives of this study were to define the levels of noise exposure for the surgeon, assistant, scrub nurse and anaesthetist during total hip and knee arthroplasty surgery. In addition, we sought to determine whether the noise exposure during these procedures reaches or exceeds the action values set out by the U.K. Noise at Work Regulations (2005). To our knowledge no real-time assessment of personal noise exposure has been performed simultaneously on multiple members of the theatre team during arthroplasty surgery.

Individual noise exposure during arthroplasty hip and knee surgery was recorded using a personal noise dosemeter system model 22 (DM22) (Pulsar instruments, Filey, U.K.). Recordings were taken real-time during five separate theatre sessions. Each theatre session included two arthroplasty procedures and lasted approximately 4hrs. Personal noise exposure was expressed in terms of peak sound pressure and an average noise exposure over an 8-hour time-period to reflect the noise experienced by the ear over a working day.

In all three sessions involving total hip replacement surgery the peak sound pressure, for the operating surgeon, exceeded the exposure action values set out by the U.K. Noise at Work Regulations. Theatre sessions involving total knee replacement surgery did not exceed any exposure action values.

The peak sound pressures experienced during total hip replacement surgery are too high and mandate that the surgeon should be provided with appropriate hearing protection. In addition, if the upper exposure action value is routinely exceeded then the theatre should be designated a hearing protection zone.