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Surg Infect (Larchmt). 2014 Dec;15(6):694-9. doi: 10.1089/sur.2014.011.

Surface contamination in operating rooms: a risk for transmission of pathogens?

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1 Bioquell (UK) Ltd ., Andover, Hampshire, United Kingdom .



The role of surface contamination in the transmission of nosocomial pathogens is recognized increasingly. For more than 100 years, the inanimate environment in operating rooms (e.g., walls, tables, floors, and equipment surfaces) has been considered a potential source of pathogens that may cause surgical site infections (SSIs). However, the role of contaminated surfaces in pathogen acquisition in this setting generally is considered negligible, as most SSIs are believed to originate from patients' or healthcare workers' flora.


A search of relevant medical literature was performed using PubMed to identify studies that investigated surface contamination of operating rooms and its possible role in infection transmission.


Despite a limited number of studies evaluating the role of surface contamination in operating rooms, there is accumulating evidence that the inanimate environment of the operating room can become contaminated with pathogens despite standard environmental cleaning. These pathogens can then be transmitted to the hands of personnel and then to patients and may result in SSIs and infection outbreaks.


Contaminated surfaces can be responsible for the transmission of pathogens in the operating room setting. Further studies are necessary to quantify the role of contaminated surfaces in the transmission of pathogens and to inform the most effective environmental interventions. Given the serious consequences of SSIs, special attention should be given to the proper cleaning and disinfection of the inanimate environment in operating rooms in addition to the other established infection control measures to reduce the burden of SSIs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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