Bacterial Colonization of the Skin Following Aseptic Preoperative Preparation and Impact of the Use of Plastic Adhesive Drapes

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Surgical site contamination, for example, with coagulase-negative staphylococci, probably derives from both the patient's own skin flora and those of the surgical team. Despite preoperative antiseptic preparation with chlorhexidine solution, complete sterilization of the skin is not possible and gradual recolonization will occur. Plastic adhesive drape is an established method used to prevent direct wound contamination from adjacent skin. In this study, the time to skin recolonization after antiseptic preparation was measured and the impact of using plastic adhesive drape on this recolonization was evaluated. Repeated bacterial sampling using three different methods over 6 hr was conducted after antiseptic preparation in 10 volunteers. Recolonization of skin was observed after 30 min with plastic drape and after 60 min without plastic drape; there were significantly more positive cultures with the plastic drape than without (31% vs. 7.5%, respectively, p < .001). Sampling with a rayon swab was the most sensitive sampling method. In conclusion, covering the skin with a plastic adhesive drape seems to hasten recolonization of the skin after antiseptic preparation. However, clinical trials to confirm this finding are warranted.

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