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March 18, 1968

Medical Applications of Dust-Free Rooms: II. Elimination of Airborne Bacteria From an Operating Theater

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Medical Research, Camden, NJ (Dr. Coriell and Mr. McGarrity), and the Department of Surgery, Graduate Hospital, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Dr. Blakemore).

JAMA. 1968;203(12):1038-1046. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140120036008

A clean room of the type constructed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program for assembly of spacecraft in a dust-free environment was studied for its effect on airborne microorganisms in an operating suite. Using a combination of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and a plenum type of vertical air flow, it was possible to essentially eliminate airborne bacteria from ambient air throughout the operating room within minutes after starting the air filter system. Microbiological monitoring of 14 operations in the clean room showed that viable particulates in the operative field were reduced 10- to 18-fold within 2 to 3 minutes of turning on the filter. This is a practical method for reducing airborne dust and bacteria and has many potential applications in a hospital.

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