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Keywords:

  • bacterial infection;
  • operating room;
  • prosthesis-related infection;
  • sweating;
  • wound infection

Background: There are a number of factors relating to the host, bacteria and wound that are important in the development of wound infection. The effect of the surgeon sweating has not been previously reported.

Methods: Ten surgeons performed a mock total hip joint operation under sterile conditions while not sweating and then repeated the operation while sweating. Settle plates were used to quantify the bacterial counts in the operative field in both phases.

Results: For each subject a mean of 3.3 colony forming units (c.f.u.) were present in the non-sweating phase and 6.9 c.f.u. were present in the sweating phase (P < 0.05). Organisms grown were normal skin flora.

Conclusion: The sweating surgeon may be more likely to contaminate the surgical field than the non-sweating surgeon. It is important for orthopaedic surgeons, especially those performing joint replacement surgery, to be aware of this and to take measures to minimize sweating in the operating theatre.