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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evaluation of the optimal hand-scrub duration prior to total hip arthroplasty.

Orthopaedic surgeons in many major arthroplasty centres advocate the use of a prolonged surgical hand-scrub prior to total joint replacement. In this study we evaluated the antimicrobial efficacy of a 5 compared with a 10 min scrub before both long (> 90 min) and short (< 90 min) operations for total hip arthroplasty. Surgical hand disinfection was performed on one occasion for 5 min and on a second for 10 min by 41 surgeons and theatre nurses using 4% chlorhexidine gluconate as a detergent formulation ('Hibiscrub', ICI Pharmaceuticals). None of the subjects had previously scrubbed on the day of each test. Bacterial colony counts on the fingers were measured using the method described by Rotter (vide infra) before scrubbing, immediately after scrubbing, and at the end of each operation. Our results showed that for arthroplasty procedures lasting less than 90 min (35 operations) a 5 min hand-scrub was equally as effective as one of 10 min. However, following longer procedures (36 operations) colony counts were significantly higher on subjects who had scrubbed for 10 min than on those who only scrubbed for 5 (P < 0.05, Mann-Whitney U-Test). This study suggests that the practice of a prolonged scrub before total joint replacement does not have a scientific basis and that such a policy should be discontinued where it is still practised.[1]


  1. Evaluation of the optimal hand-scrub duration prior to total hip arthroplasty. O'Farrell, D.A., Kenny, G., O'Sullivan, M., Nicholson, P., Stephens, M., Hone, R. J. Hosp. Infect. (1994) [Pubmed]
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