A probabilistic model is used to estimate the cumulative risk to surgeons from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Recent data suggest that the probability of infection following percutaneous inoculation is about 1 in 250 cases. Several studies suggest that the frequency of percutaneous injury in surgery is at least 1 in 40 cases, for some as high as 1 in 20 cases. Assuming that on the average a surgeon will perform 350 operations per year and will practice for 30 years, the cumulative risk of HIV infection will depend on the prevalence of HIV infection in the surgical population. For HIV prevalences of 1 in 100 to 1 in 10, the cumulative risk per surgeon ranges from 1 in 100 to 1 in 5, respectively. Based on these risk estimates, it is crucial to decrease the frequency of percutaneous injury. The case is made for substantial improvements in barrier protection and modification of surgical technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-660
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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