OBJECTIVE: To determine the integrity of microscope covers and bacterial contamination at the end of lumbar spinal decompressive surgery.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A prospective study of 25 consecutive lumbar spinal decompressions with the use of a surgical microscope was performed. For detection of perforations, the microscope covers were filled with water at the end of surgery and the presence of water leakage in 3 zones (objective, ocular and control panel) was examined. For detection of bacterial contamination, swabs were taken from the covers at the same locations before and after surgery.
RESULTS: Among the 25 covers, 1 (4%) perforation was observed and no association between perforation and bacterial contamination was seen; 3 (4%) of 75 smears from the 25 covers showed post-operative bacterial contamination, i.e. 2 in the ocular zone and 1 in the optical zone, without a cover perforation.
CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of microscope cover perforation was very low and was not shown to be associated with bacterial contamination. External sources of bacterial contamination seem to outweigh the problem of contamination due to failure of cover integrity.