WHEN introduced a century ago, the purpose of the surgical facemask was to provide protection for the patient from surgical wound infections. But is there evidence that face masks prevent wound infections? A recent review concluded that it is not clear whether face masks prevent surgical wound infections,1and the scientific evidence for this practice is weak and insufficient.1,2Questioning the efficacy of surgical face masks, an established routine in operating rooms worldwide, is clearly controversial given the tradition of the practice. Recognizing the lack of sound scientific evidence, we have changed facemask routines in several units at the Karolinska University Hospital (see image by Henrik Jörnvall, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Anesthesia, Surgical Sciences and Intensive Care, Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Stockholm, Sweden).
Is Routine Use of a Face Mask Necessary in the Operating Room?
Anesthesiology December 2010, Vol. 113, 1447.