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Povidone Iodine Irrigation May Prevent Wound Infection Following Surgery

  • Authors: News Author: Paula Moyer
    CME Author:
    Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd
  • CME Released: 8/18/2005; Reviewed and Renewed: 2/20/2007
  • Valid for credit through: 2/20/2008
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Target Audience and Goal Statement

This article is intended for primary care physicians, surgeons, and other specialists who care for patients undergoing spinal surgery.

The goal of this activity is to provide the latest medical news to physicians and other healthcare professionals in order to enhance patient care.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Identify strategies to prevent postoperative wound infections after surgery.
  • Compare the effect of a dilute 3.5% povidone iodine solution vs use of saline for irrigation before wound closure on postoperative deep wound infection after spinal surgery.


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  • Paula Moyer, MA

    Paula Moyer is a freelance writer for Medscape.


    Disclosure: Paula Moyer has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


  • Gary Vogin, MD

    Senior Medical Editor, Medscape


    Disclosure: Gary Vogin, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

CME Author(s)

  • Désirée Lie, M.D., M.S.Ed.

    Clinical Professor of Family Medicine; Director, Division of Faculty Development, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, California


    Desiree Lie, MD, MSEd, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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Povidone Iodine Irrigation May Prevent Wound Infection Following Surgery

Authors: News Author: Paula Moyer CME Author: Désirée Lie, MD, MSEdFaculty and Disclosures

CME Released: 8/18/2005; Reviewed and Renewed: 2/20/2007

Valid for credit through: 2/20/2008


Aug. 18, 2005 — Using a dilute povidone iodine solution to irrigate the wound after spinal surgery is an easy and inexpensive way to reduce the risk of deep wound infection after such procedures, according to a team of Taiwanese investigators who reported their findings in the Aug. 1 issue of Spine.

"Our report is the first to evaluate the clinical effect of dilute Betadine [povidone iodine] solution irrigation for the prevention of wound infection after spinal surgery in a prospective, single-blinded, randomized study," Ming-Te Cheng, MD, and colleagues write. "We recommend this easy and inexpensive procedure, particularly in patients who have accidental intraoperative wound contamination, risk factors for wound infection, or who are undergoing surgery in the absence of routine ultraviolet light, laminar flow, and isolation suits." The current authors cautioned that additional investigators should conduct additional studies to corroborate these findings and to clarify the efficacy of topical povidone iodine irrigation in this setting.

Dr. Cheng is affiliated with the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan.

In this study, the investigators determined whether povidone iodine irrigation could prevent deep wound infections in these patients because of the infections' devastating consequences.

Therefore, the study investigators recruited 414 patients who were scheduled to undergo spinal surgery and assigned them to two groups. In one group, involving 208 patients, the treating surgeons irrigated the surgical wounds with dilute 3.5% povidone iodine solution before closing the wound. In the remaining 206 patients, the treating surgeons did not use povidone iodine irrigation.

The investigators followed up all patients for an average of 15.5 months, with the follow-up time ranging from 6 to 24 months. None of the patients in the treatment group developed a wound infection. In the control group, one patient (0.5%) developed a superficial infection and six (2.9%) developed deep infections ( P = .0146 for deep infections and P = .0072 for total infections).

Spine. 2005;30:1689-1693