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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Feb;192(2):422-5.

A randomized trial that compared povidone iodine and chlorhexidine as antiseptics for vaginal hysterectomy.

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Division of Urogynecology & Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, 315 East Broadway, M-18, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.



The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of chlorhexidine and povidone iodine for cleansing the operative field for vaginal surgery.


This was a randomized controlled trial that compared 10% povidone iodine and 4% chlorhexidine gluconate as surgical scrubs. Our primary end point was the proportion of contaminated specimens (defined as total bacterial colony counts of >/=5000 colony-forming units) per group found throughout the surgical procedures. All patients received standard infection prophylaxis that included preoperative intravenous antibiotics. Immediately before antibiotic administration and baseline aerobic and anaerobic cultures of the vaginal flora were obtained, which were followed by cultures at 30 minutes after the surgical scrub and hourly thereafter throughout each patient's surgery.


A total of 50 patients were enrolled between October 2002 and September 2003. There were no differences between the povidone iodine (n = 27) and chlorhexidine (n = 23) groups with respect to age, race, exogenous hormone use, body mass index, gravity, parity, preoperative mean colony counts, or operative time. Among the first set of intraoperative specimens (which were obtained 30 minutes after the surgical scrub), 63% of the cultures (17/27) from the povidone iodine group and 22% of the cultures (5/23) from the chlorhexidine group were classified as contaminated ( P = .003; relative risk, 6.12; 95% CI, 1.7, 21.6). Subsequent cultures failed to demonstrate significant differences.


Chlorhexidine gluconate was more effective than povidone iodine in decreasing the bacterial colony counts that were found in the operative field for vaginal hysterectomy.

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