Buy this Article for $7.95

Have a coupon or promotional code? Enter it here:

When you buy this you'll get access to the ePub version, a downloadable PDF, and the ability to print the full article.


Chlorhexidine, Decolonization, Mupirocin, Surgical site infection, Systematic review



  1. George, Susan DNP, APRN- ACNP, CCNS, CCRN, CMC, CHFN
  2. Leasure, A. Renee PhD, RN, APRN-CNS, CCRN
  3. Horstmanshof, Douglas MD, FACC


Background: Surgical site infections (SSI) are a serious complication of surgery. Staphylococcus aureus (S aureus) is 1 of the most common causative organisms responsible for SSI. Patients who are carriers of methicillin-resistant S aureus and methicillin-sensitive S aureus are at increased risk of developing S aureus-associated SSIs. Decolonization of skin with chlorhexidine and nares with mupirocin may reduce the risk of SSI.


Objective: The primary object of this systematic review is to examine the effectiveness of preoperative universal decolonization of skin with chlorhexidine and nares with intranasal mupirocin in preventing SSIs.


Methods: The following databases were searched: Ovid Medline (from 1946 to September week 3, 2015), Embase (1947 to 2015, week 38), EBSCO CINHAL (1980-2015), Cochrane Collaboration for Systematic Reviews, EBM Reviews, and Google Scholar.


Study Selection: All experimental and nonexperimental studies that evaluated the effect of chlorhexidine in combination with intranasal mupirocin for decolonization were included. Inclusion was limited to published studies written in English. A total of 19 studies were included in this review. One study was deleted from final analysis as other agents were used for skin decolonization.


Data Extraction: Data were extracted independently by 2 members of the study team. Discrepancies were resolved through discussion.


Results: Decolonization with topical chlorhexidine and intranasal mupirocin resulted in reduction of S aureus SSI and methicillin-resistant S aureus nosocomial infection and eradication of S aureus nasal carriage. Incidence of SSIs was significantly reduced in 10 studies, which was the primary outcome. Four of the 10 studies used preoperative universal decolonization and significant reduction in SSI was observed in cardiac and orthopedic patients.


Conclusion: The results of this review indicate the combination of topical chlorhexidine and intranasal mupirocin is effective in reducing S aureus-associated SSIs.