The use of surgical facemasks during cataract surgery: is it necessary?
- 1Department of Ophthalmology, Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, Derby DE1 2QY, UK
- 2Department of Microbiology
- Correspondence to: Mr A Alwitry, Department of Ophthalmology, Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Centre, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK;
- Accepted 10 April 2002
Aim: To assess whether facemask utilisation by the surgeon during cataract surgery has any effect on the bacterial load falling onto the operative site.
Method: Prospective randomised masked study. Consent was obtained from 221 patients. Cases were randomised to wearing a new mask or not wearing any mask throughout the procedure. Blood agar settle plates were placed adjacent to the patient's head in the operative field. Duration of procedure was noted. Plates were incubated and read at 48 hours. Colony forming bacteria were counted and identified.
Results: There were significantly fewer organisms cultured when the surgeon used a facemask (p=0.0006). The majority of organisms were Staphylococcus epidermidis, Bacillus spp, and Diphtheroid spp; however Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were cultured on several occasions. There were no cases of infective complication.
Conclusions: The main purpose of an operating mask is to prevent bacteria falling on to the operative site from the surgeon's oropharynx or nasopharynx with the concomitant theoretical risk of infective complication. Operating masks were shown to have a significant effect on the volume of bacterial organisms falling to the operative site; however, whether this is clinically significant is unknown.