An Overview of Skin Antiseptics Used in Orthopaedic Surgery Procedures

Surgical site infections (SSIs) in orthopaedics are a common complication, with more than half a million SSIs occurring in the United States each year. SSIs can carry a notable burden for patients and physicians alike. Skin antiseptic solution plays an important role in preventing SSI. Many studies have looked at different skin antiseptic solution in preventing SSIs. Different surgical preps can decrease bacterial loads at surgical sites in varying degrees. Yet, the amount of bacterial load does not always correlate with a lower risk of infection.Chlorhexidine, for example, has been shown to cause markedly less SSIs compared with povidone-iodine prep in general surgery cases. Whereas chlorhexidine with alcohol may best work in the forefoot, iodine povacrylex with alcohol is equivalent in the spine. Conversely, joint arthroplasty SSIs were markedly decreased with a combination of preps. Because of all these differences, understanding which prep solution to use and when can be invaluable to the orthopaedic surgeons.