Disposal surgical face masks for preventing surgical wound infection in clean surgery

Allyson Lipp, Peggy Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Surgical face masks were originally developed to contain and filter droplets containing microorganisms expelled from the mouth and nasopharynx of healthcare workers during surgery, thereby providing protection for the patient. However, there are several ways in which surgical face masks could potentially contribute to contamination of the surgical wound, e.g. by incorrect wear or by leaking air from the side of the mask due to poor string tension.

To determine whether disposable surgical face masks worn by the surgical team during clean surgery prevent postoperative surgical wound infection.

Search methods
We searched The Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (searched 14 September 2011); The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 3); Ovid MEDLINE (2008 to August Week 5 2011); Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process andOtherNon-Indexed Citations September 13, 2011); Ovid EMBASE (2008 to 2011Week 35); and EBSCO CINAHL (2008 to 9 September 2011).

Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing the use of disposable surgical masks with the use of no mask.

Data collection and analysis
Two review authors extracted data independently.

Main results
Three trials were included, involving a total of 2113 participants. There was no statistically significant difference in infection rates between the masked and unmasked group in any of the trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 28
Number of pages27
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2010


  • surgical face masks
  • clean surgery


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