Maximal sterile barrier precautions (MSBP) including head coverings and face masks are advocated for use in invasive procedures, including coronary interventions. The rationale for MSBP assumes it is an obligatory measure for infection prevention. However, in many coronary catheterization laboratories, head coverings/face masks are not used in daily practice. This study prospectively evaluated the potential hazards of not routinely using head coverings/face masks in routine coronary interventions.
This is a prospective study of ambulatory patients in hospital care. A total of 110 successive elective patients undergoing cardiac catheterizations were recruited. Patients were catheterized by several interventional cardiologists who employed only routine infection control precautions without head coverings or face masks. For each patient, we took blood cultures and cultures from the tips of the coronary catheters and from the sterile saline water flush bowl. Cultures were handled and analyzed at our certified hospital microbiology laboratory.
In none of the cultures was a clinically significant bacterial growth isolated. No signs of infection were reported later by any of the study patients and there were no relevant subsequent admissions.
Operating in the catheterization lab without head coverings/face masks was not associated with any bacterial infection in multiple blood and equipment cultures. Accordingly, we believe that the use of head coverings/face masks should not be an obligatory requirement and may be used at the interventional cardiologist’s discretion.