BACKGROUND: Recent studies have shown a higher rate of surgical site infections in hip prosthesis implantation using unidirectional airflow ventilation compared with turbulent ventilation. However, these studies did not measure the air microbial quality of operating theatres (OTs), and assumed it to be compliant with the recommended standards for this ventilation technique.
AIM: To evaluate airborne microbial contamination in OTs during hip and knee replacement surgery, and compare the findings with values recommended for joint replacement surgery.
METHODS: Air samplings were performed in 28 OTs supplied with unidirectional, turbulent and mixed airflow ventilation. Samples were collected using passive sampling to determine the index of microbial air contamination (IMA). Active sampling was also performed in some of the OTs. The average number of people in the OT and the number of door openings during the sampling period were recorded.
FINDINGS: In total, 1228 elective prosthesis procedures (60.1% hip and 39.9% knee) were included in this study. Of passive samplings performed during surgical activity in unidirectional airflow ventilation OTs (U-OTs) and mixed airflow OTs (M-OTs), 58.9% and 87.6% had IMA values >2, respectively. Of samplings performed during surgical activity in turbulent airflow OTs (T-OTs) and in turbulent airflow OTs with the surgical team wearing Steri-Shield Turbo Helmets (TH-OTs), 8.6% and 60% had IMA values ≤ 2, respectively. Positive correlation was found between IMA values and the number of people in the OT and the number of door openings (P < 0.001). In addition, correlation was found between active and passive sampling (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: These findings challenge the belief that unidirectional systems always provide acceptable airborne bacterial counts.
- Air microbial contamination
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
- Operating theatre
- Total joint replacement