Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the authors' final version prior to publication in The Journal of Arthroplasty, September 2023.

The published version is available at Copyright © Elsevier Inc.


BACKGROUND: One of the important factors for surgical site infection prevention is the implementation of an ultraclean operating room. This study was designed to evaluate back-table sterility during total joint arthroplasty.

METHODS: This prospective study includes 52 patients undergoing primary total joint arthroplasty between November 2021 and January 2022. A total of 4 swabs (2 air swabs and 2 table swabs) were obtained for each case, at the conclusion of surgery and prior to the takedown of drapes. One swab from each set was sent for culture, and the other was sent for next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis.

RESULTS: Among 104 back-table swabs, a total of 13 (12.5%) organisms were isolated. Of these, 7 organisms were isolated by culture and 6 by NGS. No microorganisms were isolated by both culture and NGS from back-table swabs. Among 104 air swabs, a total of 11 (10.6%) organisms were isolated. Of these, 6 microorganisms were isolated by culture and 5 by NGS. In 4 of the 104 swabs, both culture- and NGS-isolated organisms were from air swabs. Of the 104 (12.5%) back-table and air swabs, 13 were culture positive. While more than 1 pathogen was identified in 2 air swabs, all back-table swabs were monomicrobial by culture. Pathogens were identified from 11 of 104 (10.6%) swabs by NGS, while more than 1 pathogen was identified in 4 swabs (2 air and 2 back table).

CONCLUSION: The findings of this study raise an important issue that the surgical field including the sterile table setup for instruments is not "sterile" and can harbor pathogens.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

PubMed ID




Available for download on Saturday, September 23, 2023