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Objective—To determine prevalence of bacterial contamination of surgical suction tips.

Sample Population—Surgical tips used during 44 surgical procedures performed on 42 dogs and 2 cats.

Procedure—Surgical procedures were classified into 1 of 3 categories according to degree of bacterial contamination of the surgical site (clean, clean-contaminated, contaminated). Two sets of suction apparatuses were used for test and control suction tips. Test tips were used normally to suction blood and fluid, whereas control tips were placed on the surgical drapes but not in the surgical wound. Suction tips were collected aseptically and placed into thioglycolate broth tubes for qualitative aerobic and anaerobic bacterial culture at the end of each procedure.

Results—Test and control suction tips were contaminated with bacteria during 30 of 44 (68%) procedures. Staphylococcus spp were the predominant bacteria in tips used during clean and clean-contaminated surgeries. When surgery was performed on clean-contaminated or contaminated wounds, prevalence of isolation of other bacteria such as Pseudomonas spp, Streptococcus spp, and Escherichia coli from both test and control suction tips was higher than for clean wounds. Mean time of procedures during which both test and control suction tips became contaminated was not significantly different from time of procedures during which neither tip became contaminated.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Surgical suction tips often become contaminated during standard veterinary surgical procedures. The risk of wound infection after surgery may be influenced by bacterial contamination of surgical suction tips. (Am J Vet Res 2000;61:779–783)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research