October 1973

The Airborne Component of Wound Contamination and Infection

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School; and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston.

Arch Surg. 1973;107(4):588-595. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1973.01350220066014

Protection against airborne contamination and infection requires the development of interdependent practices not only in the operating room but in the hospital as well for (1) the isolation of infected individuals to prevent colonization of patients and personnel, (2) control of dust in the operating room by effective housekeeping and laundering practices, (3) exclusion of bacteria shed by the surgical team by proper garb, (4) ventilation with clean air at a rate sufficient to purge bacteria from the aseptic field or its equivalent in disinfection by ultraviolet radiation, and (5) terminal disinfection of the operating room. Convenience, effectiveness, and economy are the criteria that must be evaluated in the context of each hospital. Emphasis on specific practice will vary in different hospitals. To achieve a low rate of postoperative wound infection in clean cases, the concept of asepsis must be extended and expanded from direct contact alone to include air transport of microorganisms from people as the hazardous peripatetic environment.