Is Main Operating Room Sterility Really Necessary in Carpal Tunnel Surgery? A Multicenter Prospective Study of Minor Procedure Room Field Sterility Surgery Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Over 70% of Canadian carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) operations are performed outside of the main operating room (OR) with field sterility and surgeon-administered pure local anesthesia [LeBlanc et al., Hand 2(4):173-8, 14]. Is main OR sterility necessary to avoid infection for this operation? This study evaluates the infection rate in carpal tunnel release (CTR) using minor procedure room field sterility. METHODS: This is a multicenter prospective study reporting the rate of infection in CTR performed in minor procedure room setting using field sterility. Field sterility means prepping of the hand with iodine or chlorhexidine, equivalent of a single drape, and a sterile tray with modest instruments. Sterile gloves and masks are used, but surgeons are not gowned. No prophylactic antibiotics are given. RESULTS: One thousand five hundred four consecutive CTS cases were collected from January 2008 to January 2010. Six superficial infections were reported and four of those patients received oral antibiotics. No deep postoperative wound infection was encountered, and no patient required admission to hospital, incision and drainage, or intravenous antibiotics. CONCLUSIONS: A superficial infection rate of 0.4% and a deep infection rate of 0% following CTR using field sterility confirm the low incidence of postoperative wound infection using field sterility. This supports the safety and low incidence of postoperative wound infection in CTR using minor procedure field sterility without prophylactic antibiotics. The higher monetary and environmental costs of main OR sterility are not justified on the basis of infection for CTR cases.


  • LeBlanc, Martin R
  • Lalonde, Donald H
  • Thoma, Achilleas
  • Bell, Mike
  • Wells, Neil
  • Allen, Murray
  • Chang, Peter
  • McKee, Daniel
  • Lalonde, Jan

publication date

  • March 2011

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