Setting a new standard for healthcare ventilation

Research into the most effective, healthy way to ventilate in operating theatres is published by leading independent air movement specialist Gilberts Blackpool.

It coincides with publication of new guidance- Health Technical Memorandum 03-01(*)- from the NHS on specialised ventilation for healthcare premises and the ramping up of Government plans to build 40 new hospitals by 2030.

The findings follow in-depth testing by the company. The research validates the most effective way to ventilate within operating theatres is to use laminar flow directly above the operating table.

The optimal design is to position the panels in a line, to discharge clean, filtered air directly down over the patient, washing down over the operating table for extraction by low level grilles. This optimises removal of airborne contaminants from the patient, thus reducing the risk of infection: 10% of inpatients contract an infection whilst in hospital(*). It also avoids the potential risk of contamination from air coming into contact with the theatre personnel, and transferring pollutants back onto the patients.

“The aims of the ventilation are prevention of airborne contaminants entering the theatre, dilution of airborne contaminants, and control of airflow,” explains Gilberts’ Technical Director Roy Jones. “HTM 03-01 advises 22 air changes/hour at a velocity of 0.2-0.3m/3 at the operating table. It advises this is achieved via either a laminar flow strategy or radial convergence (diffusers in a rectangle around the table). We undertook in-depth analysis: we not only computer-modelled (via CFD) but undertook real-time tests in our purpose-built laboratory.

“The study confirmed that the best configuration to ensure adequate washing over and away to avoid contamination is via laminar flow panels. It was noted that there is risk of entrainment back into the incoming air using the air convergence strategy.”

Details of the Gilberts’ testing can be found here:

Gilberts already has an established range of laminar flow panels- PGL- already widely used in operating theatres, laboratories and similar stringently-controlled environments.

The PGL Series of perforated laminar flow panels provides an equalised turbulence-free input of air into the treated zone. The 1200 x 600mm panels create a vertical air projection. In this way a clean uncontaminated air zone can be supplied to surround critical areas ie: operating tables and work tops.

The laminar flow panels are part of Gilberts’ solutions for everyday and specialised ventilation. Founded some 60 years ago, Gilberts is Britain’s leading independent air movement specialist, and is unique in its ability to develop components, ‘mainstream’ or bespoke – entirely in-house, from initial design through tooling, production, testing and supply, at its 85,000 ft2 manufacturing facility. Its state of the art test centre, where the HTM validation was executed, was designed and built in-house and is one of the most technically advanced in the country.