Post-TKA Infection – Non-Sterile Tourniquets Are Contaminated

Re-use non-sterile pneumatic tourniquets for TKA occur in some hospitals and ambulatory centers

Some hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers still re-use non-sterile pneumatic tourniquets for TKA. This happens despite the fact that there are multiple scientific papers showing non-sterile tourniquets are contaminated by many pathogenic bacteria. These hospitals perhaps believe it’s safe to re-use non-sterile tourniquets with a sterile drape, prevents bacteria from reaching the surgical area. Unfortunately, this supposition is totally unsupported by science. In fact, bacteria can penetrate through the broken skin beneath the tourniquet. It’s enough that just a few bacteria reach the metallic implant inserted during TKA for these bugs to multiply and cause surgical site infection.

This approach is also very short-sighted economically. Assume that contaminated tourniquets cause infection in only 1 in a 1000 TKA cases. The cost of treating SSI ($70.000 – $100,000) is far higher than using sterile, single-use tourniquets (pneumatic or HemaClear®. It is prudent for patients to insist on the use of a sterile single-patient tourniquet for their TKA.

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