J Bone Jt Infect 2019 16;4(2):65-71. Epub 2019 Feb 16.
Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery Unit, Department of the Locomotor Apparatus, Lausanne. University Hospital, Rue du Bugnon 46, CH-1011, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Sterility errors during orthopaedic procedures can be stressful for the surgeon or scrub nurse and lead to devastating infectious complications and liability issues. This paper aims to review orthopaedic surgeon practices and propose possible attitudes to adopt. Out of 1023 questionnaires sent, 170 orthopaedic surgeons answered a Volunteer Feedback Template (multiple-choice test) by SurveyMonkey® (San Mateo, CA, USA) anonymously. The survey questioned surgeon's response to a sterility mistake during a standard total knee joint replacement, trauma surgery and arthroscopic procedure. Those "sterility mistake" situations occurred when there was contamination of 1) a sterile polyethylene (PE) 2) a sterile targeting device, and 3) an arthroscope. When the definitive PE is contaminated, and if a new definitive PE will only be available 2 hours later, 52% of surgeons would wait for the new definitive PE (p<0.001). In the same situation, if a new PE will only be available in 4 hours, the results showed a significant difference favoring two other options: "putting a definitive PE one size smaller or bigger with balance adjustment" (31%); and "leaving the provisional PE in the joint, closing the wound and re-operating the patient in the coming days when the definitive PE arrives" (29%) (p<0.001). When the new PE is only available 24 hours later results were 34% and 31%, respectively (p<0.001). In the case of a surgical procedure for a classic intertrochanteric fracture, if the carbon fiber targeting device is contaminated, most surgeons (50%) chose to put the nail without the targeting device and finish the surgery (p<0.001). When the arthroscope is desterilized, 39% of participants would wait until the arthroscope has been sterilized again (approximately 2 hours), while 24% would use another procedure (p<0.001). Sixty-two percent of surgeons would adapt their strategy. No clear trend could be identified in terms of antibiotic treatment following a sterility error. There are no established guidelines on how to deal with sterility breaches during surgery and on the antibiotic strategy following the prolonged surgical time resulting from the delay for a new implant. The most common course of action chosen by participating surgeons is detailed in our expert decision tree - if another sterile component is not available within 2 hours - : insertion of another PE size, rescheduling the operation, adapting the surgical technique (for trauma procedures), or soaking the arthroscope in disinfectant solution. As instances of contamination cannot be avoided, it is recommended to have a minimum of two copies of sterile PE implants, arthroscopes or targeting devices readily available before surgery begins-.