In Vitro Characterization of Lavage Splash and Effectiveness of Lavage Shield

  • Steven Nishiyama Valley Hospital Las Vegas, NV
  • Ronald Hillock Nevada Orthopedic and Spine Center 2650 North Tenaya Way, Suite 300 Las Vegas, NV 89128


BACKGROUND:  Utilization of fluid to remove debris from surgical wounds has been a standard of medical care for centuries. Electrically powered pulse lavage systems are now regularly used to flush wounds in the operating room. This study aims to characterize splash patterns and contamination generated by different irrigation techniques commonly used in the treatment of surgical wounds.

METHODS: 4 different irrigation scenarios: gravity flow (GF), asepto bulb syringe (ABS), high pressure pulsatile lavage without splash shield (HPPL), and high pressure pulsatile lavage with splash shielding (HPPL-S) were conducted on a Sawbone® knee model anchored to a standard operating table in a fully operational operating room of a community hospital. Normal saline supplemented with Fluorescein dye was utilized as the fluid.  The OR was divided into 4 quadrants and surveyed with a UV light source to characterize the presence of fluorescent fluid/droplets and radius of droplet displacement.

RESULTS: The HPPL trials contaminated the entire room with droplets that were too numerous to count. The HPPL-S trials reduced the number of droplets in quadrants outside of the “head right” quadrants, to a range of 0-12 droplets. In addition, the HPPL-S trial reduced the droplet distance to levels comparable to or below the GF and ABS droplet distance.

DISCUSSION: This is the first study to characterize splash patterns seen with different irrigation systems. The addition of an inexpensive splashguard during high-pressure irrigation drastically reduced splash displacement.  Decreased splash displacement theoretically reduces OR contamination and the resultant risk of nosocomial contamination.


Davol Simpulse™ Irrigation System. Available at: . Accessibility verified November 4, 2013.

Heraeus Medical Palavage. Available at: . Accessibility verified November 3, 2013.

Pulse Lavage. Available at: . Accessibility verified November 4, 2013.

Stryker Pulsed Irrigation System. Available at: . Accessibility verified November 4, 2013.

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How to Cite
Nishiyama, S., & Hillock, R. (2015). In Vitro Characterization of Lavage Splash and Effectiveness of Lavage Shield. Reconstructive Review, 5(1).
Basic Science