Chlorhexidine-Alcohol Scrub May Prevent Surgical Site Infections Better Than Povidone-Iodine

DynaMed Weekly Update - Volume 5, Issue 3

Preoperative skin cleansing is routinely performed to reduce the risk of surgical site infections. A new randomized trial suggests that cleansing with chlorhexidine-alcohol may be more effective than povidone-iodine ( level 2 [mid-level] evidence). Adult patients having clean-contaminated surgery were randomized to preoperative skin preparation with either chlorhexidine-alcohol scrub or povidone-iodine scrub and paint and were followed for 30 days. Surgeries included colorectal, small intestinal, gastroesophageal, biliary, thoracic, gynecologic, or urologic procedures. In an analysis of 849 patients, the chlorhexidine-alcohol group had a lower overall rate of surgical-site infection (9.5% vs. 16.1%, p = 0.004, NNT 16), superficial incisional infection (4.2% vs. 8.6%, p = 0.008, NNT 23), and deep incisional infection (1% vs. 3%, p = 0.05, NNT 50). There were no significant differences in adverse events (N Engl J Med 2010 Jan 7;362(1):18).

For more information, see the Surgical wound infection - prevention topic in DynaMed.