Investigating Particulate Production in The Operating Suite Following the Use of Waterless Alcohol Based Dry Scrub Versus Traditional Hand Washing and Drying with Commonly Used Surgical Towels: An Experimental Study.


      • Surgical Site Infections cause substantial morbidity and cost in the United States
      • Waterless alcohol-based dry scrub yielded the lowest amount of particulate formation
      • Reusable surgical towels produced the highest number of particulates



      An often-overlooked item that could cause contamination in the operating suite are the towels used for hand drying following surgical scrub. The purpose of this current study was to determine if there was a difference in the particulate count from different hand drying methods following surgical hand preparation.


      Three simulated hand drying groups were established: disposable sterilized surgical towels, reusable sterilized surgical towels, and a waterless alcohol-based dry rub. Particle size measurements of 0.3 µm, 5.0 µm, and 10.0 µm were collected at time zero and repeated every minute for 5 minutes for a total of 10 trials each.


      Both the reusable and disposable towels produced significantly more particle matter in all size groups compared to the alcohol scrub control group. A comparison analysis and ANOVA testing demonstrated that alcohol dry scrub produced significantly fewer particles compared to both the disposable blue towels (P<0.01) and the reusable green towels (P<0.01). Disposable towels produced significantly more particles in the 0.3 µm count compared to reusable towels (P<0.05).


      An alcohol-based dry rub without using a towel yielded the lowest amount of particulate formation in this experimental model, while reusable surgical towels produced the highest number of particles.

      Level of Evidence

      Level II Experimental Study


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