To beard or not to beard? bacterial shedding among surgeons

Joshua Alan Parry, Melissa J. Karau, Johnathon M. Aho, Michael Taunton, Robin Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Beards in the operating room are controversial because of their potential to retain and transmit pathogenic organisms. Many bearded orthopedic surgeons choose to wear nonsterile hoods in addition to surgical masks to decrease contamination of the operative field. The goal of this study was to determine whether nonsterile surgical hoods reduce the risk of bacterial shedding posed by beards. Bearded (n=10) and clean-shaven (n=10) subjects completed 3 sets of standardized facial motions, each lasting 90 seconds and performed over blood agar plates, while unmasked, masked, and masked and hooded. The plates were cultured for 48 hours under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Colony-forming units (CFUs) were quantified, expanded, and identified. Overall, the addition of surgical hoods did not decrease the total number of anaerobic and aerobic CFUs isolated per subject, with a mean of 1.1 CFUs while hooded compared with 1.4 CFUs with the mask alone (P=.5). Unmasked subjects shed a mean of 6.5 CFUs, which was significantly higher than the number of CFUs shed while masked (P=.02) or hooded (P=.01). The bearded group did not shed more than the clean-shaven group while unmasked (9.5 vs 3.3 CFUs, P=.1), masked (1.6 vs 1.2 CFUs, P=.9), or hooded (0.9 vs 1.3 CFUs, P=.6). Bearded surgeons did not appear to have an increased likelihood of bacterial shedding compared with their nonbearded counterparts while wearing surgical masks, and the addition of nonsterile surgical hoods did not decrease the amount of bacterial shedding observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e290-e294
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'To beard or not to beard? bacterial shedding among surgeons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this