Mitigation of Airborne Cardiac Heater-Cooler Emissions using the HUAIRS

Carrico, R.M. PhD DNP FSHEA CIC, Warye, K.
The HUAIRS system represents a potential solution for the mitigation of bioaerosol emissions in order to eliminate SSI risk due to HCU in cardiac ORs.


Nearly a century of literature supports the relationship between airborne pathogen levels and healthcare-associated infection. Recently, surgical infections have been reported as a result of aerosolized nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) exhausted from contaminated heatercooler units (HCUs) during cardiac surgery in multiple countries. There is currently no reliable risk mitigation strategy available for cardiac operating rooms, other than replacing the expensive HCU. This study was designed to evaluate the applicability of a new technology HEPA/Ultraviolet Air Recirculation System (HUAIRS) for use in conjunction with Stockert 3T HCU to reduce microbial aerosol emissions from the ambient air.


Deployment of the HUAIRS device in conjunction with 3T HCU resulted in over 79% reduction in 3T HCU-generated particle emissions in a test chamber air, and 100% when the 3T HCU was exhausting directly into the HUAIRS air intake.

Particle emissions into the test chamber air were reduced to 5300 particles per m3 after only 15 minutes, translating to a 79.6% improvement in airborne particulate content (Student’s t-test p=0.006) (Table 1).