Background: It remains unclear whether preoperative skin cleaning of the chin, neck, and chest with chlorhexidine soap can reduce suture contamination by Cutibacterium acnes in patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Methods: This study included patients who underwent primary arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Exclusion criteria included age <18 years, previous shoulder surgery, history of shoulder infection, and allergy to chlorhexidine. Patients were randomized into 3 groups. Patients in the control group cleaned their skin with soap and water, as usual. Patients in the shoulder group cleaned their shoulders with chlorhexidine soap 3 days before surgery, whereas patients in the extended shoulder group additionally cleaned their chest, back, neck, and face with chlorhexidine soap. On the day of surgery, skin swab samples were obtained from the shoulder after surgical draping. After rotator cuff repair, sutures were cut from the anchor ends. Both traditional culture methods and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were used. Results: Ninety patients were enrolled (32 in the control group, 29 in the shoulder group, and 29 in the extended shoulder group) in the present study. The culture-positive rate from the posterior shoulder skin samples in the extended shoulder group (17.2%) was significantly lower than that in the control (40.6%) and shoulder (48.3%) groups (P = .036), whereas the culture-positive rates were not different among the 3 groups in other skin samples as well as the suture samples. The detection rates of C acnes in suture samples were 12.5%, 13.8%, and 17.2% in the control, shoulder, and extended shoulder groups, respectively (P = .603). Conclusion: Extensive skin cleaning of the shoulder region with chlorhexidine helps reduce the shoulder cutaneous bacterial load, but the detection of C acnes suture contamination in patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair remained untouched regardless of the use of chlorhexidine soap in skin cleaning on the preoperative days.
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