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March 1961

Ultraviolet Radiation in the Operating Room: Intensities Used and Bactericidal Effects

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center.

Arch Surg. 1961;82(3):449-465. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1961.01300090119026

Introduction  From 1930 to 1936 in the Duke Hospital, unexplained infections, usually staphylococcal, were frequent, often severe, and occasionally fatal. They occurred most commonly in groups during the colder months when air contamination in the operating rooms was highest. This contamination was definitely proven at times to be associated with widespread dissemination of yellow staphylococci in the respiratory tracts of personnel and the general population. These infections were controlled by sanitizing the air and exposed surfaces in the operating rooms with ultraviolet radiation (2,537 A.) after all efforts by a more rigid application of the traditional aseptic and atraumatic technique had failed.Since the universal adoption of aseptic precautions for the control of contact inoculations of wounds, many reports on "procedures for control" of unexplained operating-room infections by a more rigid technique have been made. A number of these may have been fallacious, the drop in the infection rate being