Surgical face masks and downward dispersal of bacteria

  title={Surgical face masks and downward dispersal of bacteria},
  author={H. A. Mclure and C. A. Talboys and Steve M. Yentis and B S Azadian},
The ability of face masks to prevent forward dispersal of bacteria is offset by the possibility that they may increase vertical shedding of bacteria from the face during facial movement. To investigate this, a blood agar plate was placed 30 cm directly below the lips of 20 volunteers who were encouraged to talk for 20 min while moving their heads from side to side, without a face mask for the first 5 min and then with a standard, soft pleated face mask for the subsequent 15 min. The agar plates… 
The effect of facial hair and sex on the dispersal of bacteria below a masked subject
To reduce the risks of contamination of the sterile field when face masks are worn females and bearded males should avoid wiggling the face mask.
Potential impact of oral flora dispersal on patients wearing face masks when undergoing ophthalmologic procedures
This study showed no difference in bacterial dispersion towards the ocular surface when comparing no face mask, a surgical face mask without tape or a surgicalface mask with tape.
Bacterial dispersal associated with speech in the setting of intravitreous injections.
During simulated intravitreous injection, wearing a face mask or remaining silent significantly decreases culture plate contamination from talking, which should encourage patients to minimize speech during the procedure.
How effective are face masks in operation theatre? A time frame analysis and recommendations.
Face masks significantly decreased bacterial dispersal initially but became almost ineffective after two hours of use, and there was no significant difference between cotton fabric and two ply disposable masks.
The use of surgical facemasks during cataract surgery: is it necessary?
Operating masks were shown to have a significant effect on the volume of bacterial organisms falling to the operative site; however, whether this is clinically significant is unknown.
Disposable surgical face masks for preventing surgical wound infection in clean surgery.
It is unclear whether the wearing of surgical face masks by members of the surgical team has any impact on surgical wound infection rates for patients undergoing clean surgery.
Understanding the factors involved in determining the bioburdens of surgical masks.
Multiple factors influence SM bioburden, and surgical mask C is not recommended to be used, especially considering that surgeons do not wash the cloth masks daily.
Contamination of the Surgical Field: What Does the Published Research Say about Face Masks?
Peggy Edwards presents the results of her review of the literature on the face mask debate and suggests that the wearing of face masks during surgical procedures for maximum patient protection should be re-educated.


Surgical face masks are effective in reducing bacterial contamination caused by dispersal from the upper airway.
A fresh face mask almost completely abolished bacterial contamination of agar plates 30 cm from the mouth, and after 15 min there was an increase in the level of contamination which was statistically insignificant.
Wearing of masks for obstetric regional anaesthesia
A postal survey of 801 members of the Obstetric Anaesthetists Association was carried out in the United Kingdom and Ireland to investigate the use of surgical facemasks whilst performing spinal and epidural blocks, finding that half of those who routinely wore masks did not believe that wearing a mask reduced the risk of infection.
Spinal Epidural Abscess
In an editorial describing his clinical experience of spinal epidural abscess, Heusner (1948) reminds us that “… the decisive factor in the outcome of most cases is the celerity with which the first
Serious non-fatal complications associated with extradural block in obstetric practice.
Although rare, serious complications could be reduced further by meticulous technique, while early diagnosis and treatment of untoward events would reduce the incidence of permanent disability.
Is a mask necessary in the operating theatre?
  • N. Orr
  • Physics
    Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • 1982
Abstract No masks were worn in one operating theatre for 6 months. There was no increase in the incidence of wound infection.
Face masks and spinal anaesthesia.