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General Orthopaedics

Intraoperative bacterial contamination in operations for joint replacement

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All surgical operations have the potential for contamination, and the equipment used can harbour bacteria. We collected samples from 100 elective primary hip and knee arthroplasties. These showed rates of contamination of 11.4% for the sucker tips, 14.5% for light handles, 9.4% for skin blades and 3.2% for the inside blades used during surgery; 28.7% of gloves used for preparation were also contaminated. Of the samples taken from the collection bags used during hip arthroplasty, 20% grew bacteria, which represents a significant microbial reservoir. Also, 17% of theatre gowns were contaminated at the end of the operation. Contamination was found in 10% of the needles used during closure of the fascia. Overall, 76% of the organisms grown were coagulase-negative staphylococcus. A total of 63% of operations showed contamination in the field of operation. Some changes in practice are suggested. Follow-up for a minimum of two years revealed one deep infection but the organism was not identified as a contaminant. These data provide a baseline for studying the bacteriology of the surgery of revision arthroplasty.

Correspondence should be sent to Miss N. Davis at 6 Cambridge Close, Sale, Cheshire M33 4YJ, UK.

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