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Does the use of laminar flow and space suits reduce early deep infection after total hip and knee replacement?


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We have investigated whether the use of laminar-flow theatres and space suits reduced the rate of revision for early deep infection after total hip (THR) and knee (TKR) replacement by reviewing the results of the New Zealand Joint Registry at ten years.

Of the 51 485 primary THRs and 36 826 primary TKRs analysed, laminar-flow theatres were used in 35.5% and space suits in 23.5%. For THR there was a significant increase in early infection in those procedures performed with the use of a space suit compared with those without (p < 0.0001), in those carried out in a laminar-flow theatre compared with a conventional theatre (p < 0.003) and in those undertaken in a laminar-flow theatre with a space suit (p < 0.001) when compared with conventional theatres without such a suit. The results were similar for TKR with the use of a space suit (p < 0.001), in laminar-flow theatres (p < 0.019) and when space suits were used in those theatres (p < 0.001). These findings were independent of age, disease and operating time and were unchanged when the surgeons and hospital were analysed individually.

The rate of revision for early deep infection has not been reduced by using laminar flow and space suits. Our results question the rationale for their increasing use in routine joint replacement, where the added cost to the health system seems to be unjustified.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor G. J. Hooper; e-mail: ghooper@otago.ac.nz

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