Hair removal policies in clean surgery: systematic review of randomized, controlled trials.

Dutch Working Party on Infection Prevention, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 4.02). 01/2006; 26(12):923-8. DOI:10.1086/505454
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To determine whether certain hair removal policies are better than others to prevent surgical-site infections in patients undergoing clean surgery.
Publications were retrieved by a systematic search of Medline, the Cochrane Library, and EMBASE up to February 2005. Additionally, the reference lists of all identified trials were examined. All randomized trials, quasi-randomized trials, and systematic reviews or meta-analyses of randomized or quasi-randomized trials comparing hair removal policies in clean surgery were selected. Trials involving patients undergoing cranial neurosurgery were excluded. Two reviewers independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Disagreements were resolved by discussion with a third reviewer. Data from the original publications were used to calculate the relative risk or risk difference of surgical-site infection. Data for similar outcomes were combined in the analysis, where appropriate, with the use of a random effects model.
Four trials were included in the review. No eligible systematic review or meta-analysis of randomized or quasi-randomized trials was found. The quality of the trials and how they were reported were generally unsatisfactory. Evidence regarding whether preoperative hair removal has any effect was inconclusive. When hair removal was considered necessary, evidence about the best time for removal was inconclusive. There was some evidence that hair removal by clipper is superior to removal by razor.
Because of insufficient evidence as a basis for recommendations, the practical consequences for ward management were essential when the Dutch Working Party on Infection Prevention formulated its recommendations for hair removal policies. Large randomized, controlled trials are needed to determine the optimal policy for preoperative hair removal.

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