Traffic in the operating room: a review of factors influencing air flow and surgical wound contamination

Infect Disord Drug Targets. 2013 Jun;13(3):156-61. doi: 10.2174/1871526511313030002.


Surgical wound contamination leading to surgical site infection can result from disruption of the intended airflow in the operating room (OR). When personnel enter and exit the OR, or create unnecessary movement and traffic during the procedure, the intended airflow in the vicinity of the open wound becomes disrupted and does not adequately remove airborne contaminants from the sterile field. An increase in the bacterial counts of airborne microorganisms is noted during increased activity levels within the OR. Researchers have studied OR traffic and door openings as a determinant of air contamination. During a surgical procedure the door to the operating room may be open as long as 20 minutes out of each surgical hour during critical procedures involving implants. Interventions into limiting excessive movement and traffic in the OR may lead to reductions in surgical site infections in select populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Conditioning / adverse effects
  • Air Conditioning / methods
  • Air Conditioning / standards
  • Air Conditioning / trends
  • Air Microbiology
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / nursing
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / trends
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Infection Control / standards
  • Infection Control / trends
  • Intraoperative Care / adverse effects*
  • Intraoperative Care / nursing
  • Intraoperative Care / standards
  • Intraoperative Care / trends
  • Operating Room Nursing / trends
  • Operating Rooms / methods*
  • Operating Rooms / standards
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects
  • Orthopedic Procedures / nursing
  • Orthopedic Procedures / trends
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Surgical Wound Infection / nursing
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Workforce