Background: Previous studies have demonstrated higher infection
rates following orthopaedic procedures on the foot and ankle as compared with
procedures involving other areas of the body. Previous studies also have
documented the difficulty of eliminating bacteria from the forefoot prior to
surgery. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of
three different surgical skin-preparation solutions in eliminating potential
bacterial pathogens from the foot.
Methods: A prospective study was undertaken to evaluate 125
consecutive patients undergoing surgery of the foot and ankle. Each lower
extremity was prepared with one of three randomly selected solutions: DuraPrep
(0.7% iodine and 74% isopropyl alcohol), Techni-Care (3.0% chloroxylenol), or
ChloraPrep (2% chlorhexidine gluconate and 70% isopropyl alcohol). After
preparation, quantitative culture specimens were obtained from three
locations: the hallux nailfold (the hallux site), the web spaces between the
second and third and between the fourth and fifth digits (the toe site), and
the anterior part of the tibia (the control site).
Results: In the Techni-Care group, bacteria grew on culture of
specimens obtained from 95% of the hallux sites, 98% of the toe sites, and 35%
of the control sites. In the DuraPrep group, bacteria grew on culture of
specimens obtained from 65% of the hallux sites, 45% of the toe sites, and 23%
of the control sites. In the ChloraPrep group, bacteria grew on culture of
specimens from 30% of the hallux sites, 23% of the toe sites, and 10% of the
control sites. ChloraPrep was the most effective agent for eliminating
bacteria from the halluces and the toes (p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The use of effective preoperative preparation solution
is an important step in limiting surgical wound contamination and preventing
infection, particularly in foot and ankle surgery. Of the three solutions
tested in the present study, the combination of chlorhexidine and alcohol
(ChloraPrep) was most effective for eliminating bacteria from the forefoot
prior to surgery.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions
to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.