Introduction: Post operative wound infections constitute a costly, and potentially dangerous event. All means to limit intraoperative contamination of the surgical environment deserve consideration. Low frequency contributers to field contamination may be difficult to detect but may include surgical mask design that enhances exhaled breath vapor condensation that may weep off the mask and contaminate the field.
Methods: All surgeons are perpetually vigilant of the sterility of the surgical field. Scrutiny of the operative staffs choice of surgical masks and the presence of significant condensation of droplets of liquid on the outer plastic "vapor barrier" of the surgical masks was followed by witness on occasion of the liquid from the mask dropping on the field. Long cases, vigourous exertion, and "trapping" of the exhaled air between the outer plastic vaper barrier and overlying safety glasses may contribute to this phenomena.
Results: Close scrutiny of "Vapor Barrier" type masks to avoid contamination of the operative field would appear prudent.
Conclusions: Though rare, specific surgical mask designs may reult in a source for intraoperaive contamination and infection.
Patient Care: Recognizing "vapor barrier" masks as a possible source of post operative wound infections.
Learning Objectives: Recognize a potential source of intraoperative contamination that may lead to post operative wound infections.