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CDC Recommendations for minimizing Surgical Site Infections

Surgical asepsis, attained by Sterile Technique, is the perfect condition for surgery. By definition, this sterile field, if properly and procedurally constructed for each and every surgical patient, means ‘free from microorganisms.’

Such conditions are nearly impossible to attain in human surgical settings but, compared to veterinary surgery, better physical infrastructure, better products and better protocols have been deployed and refined for years to minimize surgical site infections (SSI’s) in human OR’s.

The Centers for Disease Control’s Guideline for the Prevention of Surgical Site Infection, while not specifically written for pet surgery, still offers pertinent recommendations that apply, regardless of the type of animal.

‘Strongly recommended’ steps by CDC to prevent SSI*:

Step CDC Recommendation Specific CDC wording
Pre-op/Prep Do not remove hair unless it will interfere with surgery


Do not remove hair preoperatively unless the hair at or around the incision site will interfere with the operation
  Remove hair immediately before surgery If hair is removed, remove immediately before the operation, preferably with electric clippers
  Wash and clean around incision site to remove dirt before prepping Thoroughly wash and clean at and around the incision site to remove gross contamination before performing antiseptic skin preparation
  Use antiseptic agent for skin prep Use an appropriate antiseptic agent for skin preparation
Intraoperative Wear a surgical mask any and all times in the OR during a procedure Wear a surgical mask that fully covers the mouth and nose when entering the operating room if an operation is about to begin or already under way, or if sterile instruments are exposed. Wear the mask throughout the operation
  Cover hair on head and face in OR Wear a cap or hood to fully cover hair on the head and face when entering the operating room
  Wear sterile gloves if scrubbed in, after gowning Wear sterile gloves if a scrubbed surgical team member. Put on gloves after donning a sterile gown
  Use gowns and drapes that resist fluid penetration when wet Use surgical gowns and drapes that are effective barriers when wet (i.e., materials that resist liquid penetration)
  Change clothing that is soiled and/or contaminated with blood and body fluids Change scrub suits that are visibly soiled, contaminated, and/or penetrated by blood or other potentially infectious materials