To the Editor.—Ward and coworkers1 introduce a new technology in the article "A Significant New Contribution to Radical Head and Neck Surgery: the Argon Beam Coagulator as an Effective Means of Limiting Blood Loss." I had the pleasure of hearing Dr Ward's presentation at the American Society of Head and Neck Surgery and to see the videotape of the instrument "in action." Although I share his enthusiasm for the potential capabilities of this new instrument, I would like to raise a specific safety issue.
The argon beam coagulator depends on the flow of a stream of argon gas to blow away blood and other fluids in front of the coagulating current. The argon gas stream is described as "gentle," but no quantitative information is given with regard to its force. My question relates to the extent with which blood "blown away" from the operative field is aerosolized.