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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2016 Jul;474(7):1583-8. doi: 10.1007/s11999-016-4748-9.

Does Preadmission Cutaneous Chlorhexidine Preparation Reduce Surgical Site Infections After Total Hip Arthroplasty?

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA.
Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics, Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, 2401 West Belvedere Avenue, Baltimore, MD, 21215, USA.



Periprosthetic hip infections are among the most catastrophic complications after total hip arthroplasty (THA). We had previously proven that the use of chlorhexidine cloths before surgery may help decrease these infections; hence, we increased the size of the previously reported cohort.


(1) Does a preadmission chlorhexidine cloth skin preparation protocol decrease the risk of surgical site infection in patients undergoing THA? (2) When stratified using the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) risk categories, which categories are associated with risk reduction from the preadmission chlorhexidine preparation protocol?


Between 2007 and 2013, a group of 998 patients used chlorhexidine cloths before surgery, whereas a group of 2846 patients did not use them and underwent standard perioperative disinfection only. Patient records were reviewed to determine the development of periprosthetic infection in both groups of patients.


Patients without the preoperative chlorhexidine gluconate disinfection protocol had a higher risk of infections (infections with protocol: six of 995 [0.6%]; infections in control: 46 of 2846 [1.62%]; relative risk: 2.68 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.15-0.26]; p = 0.0226). When stratified based on risk category, no differences were detected; preadmission chlorhexidine preparation was not associated with reduced infection risk for low, medium, and high NHSN risk categories (p = 0.386, 0.153, and 0.196, respectively).


The results of our study suggest that this cloth application appears to reduce the risk of infection in patients undergoing THA. When stratified by risk categories, we found no difference in the infection rate, but these findings were underpowered. Although future multicenter randomized trials will need to confirm these preliminary findings, the intervention is inexpensive and is unlikely to be risky and so might be considered on the basis of this retrospective, comparative study.


Level III, therapeutic study.

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