Friday, October 29, 2010

Antiseptics: Pink is better

In preparing patients for invasive procedures (e.g biopsies, bone marrow aspiration, major surgery), I have always wondered the difference between the various antiseptics used. In the past, I tended to use whatever was handed to me by the nurse or resident.

A recent study published in NEJM earlier this year shows that chlorhexidine-alcohol (pink solution) is superior to povidone-iodine (brown solution) in reducing rates of surgical site infection. This randomized controlled trial found a relative risk of 0.59. Although this is only one study, it strongly supports use of chlorhexidine-based solutions over iodine.