Prospective study of wound infections in Mohs micrographic surgery using clean surgical technique in the absence of prophylactic antibiotics

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):842-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.07.029. Epub 2010 Aug 30.


Background: Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) has a low rate of surgical site infection (SSI) without the use of prophylactic antibiotics. In the studies to date, there has been variation in the steps taken by each surgeon to prevent SSIs but in all cases sterile technique was used during wound reconstruction.

Objective: We sought to evaluate the rate of SSIs among patients undergoing MMS with the use of clean surgical technique for all steps of MMS including wound reconstruction in the absence of prophylactic antibiotics.

Methods: We prospectively evaluated 1000 patients undergoing MMS using clean surgical technique for SSIs. Clean surgical technique includes the use of clean surgical gloves and towels and a single pack of sterile instruments for all steps including wound reconstruction.

Results: There were 11 SSIs among 1000 patients with 1204 tumors, with an overall rate of infection of 0.91% (95% confidence interval 0.38%-1.45%). Three of the 11 infections were complications of hematomas. Four of the 11 infections occurred in flap closures, which had the highest rate of SSIs of 2.67% (4/150).

Limitations: The study was a prospective, single-institution uncontrolled study.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the rate of SSIs with the use of clean surgical technique, in the absence of antibiotic prophylaxis, for all steps of MMS including wound reconstruction. Our rate of SSIs of 0.91% is exceedingly low, underscoring the overall safety of MMS and its performance in the outpatient setting without the use of antibiotic prophylaxis or sterile technique.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Asepsis / methods*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / surgery*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Female
  • Gloves, Surgical
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Mohs Surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Sterilization / methods*
  • Surgical Flaps
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Surgical Wound Infection / drug therapy
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents