Asepsis is the practice to reduce or eliminate contaminants (such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) from entering the operative field in surgery or medicine to prevent infection. Ideally, a field is "sterile" — free of all contaminants — a situation that is difficult to attain. However, elimination of infection is the goal of asepsis, not sterility.

Related terms

Antiseptis is a term used sometimes as a synonym, but also applies to the uses of antiseptics. Antiseptics are agents that reduce or kill germs chemically and are applied to skin and wound surfaces. In contrast, disinfectants are chemicals applied to inert surfaces and are usually too harsh to be used on biological surfaces. Antibiotics kill specifically bacteria and work biochemically; they can be used externally or internally.


The first step in asepsis is cleanliness, a concept already espoused by Hippocrates.The modern concept of asepsis evolved in the 19th century. Semmelweis showed that washing the hands prior to delivery reduced puerperal fever. After the suggestion by Louis Pasteur, Lister introduced the use of carbolic acid as an antiseptic and reduced surgical infections rates. Lawson Tait went from antisepsis to asepsis, introducing principles and practices that have remained valid to this day. Ernst von Bergmann introduced the autoclave, a device used for the sterilization of surgical instruments.


Today's techniques include a series of steps that complement each other. Foremost remains good hygienic practice. The procedure room is laid out according to specific guidelines, subject to regulations concerning filtering and airflow, and kept clean between surgical cases. A patient who is brought for the procedure is washed and wears a clean gown. The surgical site is washed, possibly shaved, and skin is exposed to a germicide (i.e., an iodine solution such as betadine). In turn, members of the surgical team wash hands and arms with germicidal solution. Operating surgeons and nurses wear sterile gowns and gloves. Hair is covered and a surgical mask is worn. Instruments are sterilized through autoclaving, or, if disposable, are used once. Irrigation is used in the surgical site. Suture material or xenografts have been sterilized beforehand. Dressing material is sterile. Antibiotics are often not necessary in a "clean" case, that is, a surgical procedure where no infection is apparent; however, when a case is considered "contaminated," they are usually indicated.

Dirty and biologically contaminated material is subject to regulated disposal.

External links

* [ History]
* [ Definition]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Asepsis — A*sep sis, n. [NL., fr. Gr. ? priv. + sepsis.] State of being aseptic; the methods or processes of asepticizing. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Asepsis — (griech., Aseptik, aseptische Wundbehandlung), eine Operations und Wundbehandlungsmethode, die zielbewußt alle Infektionserreger von der Wunde fern zu halten sucht. Sie wurde von der v. Bergmannschen Schule eingeführt und trat an Stelle der… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Asepsis — Asepsis, Asēptik (grch.), Wundbehandlung, bei der die Wunde von infektiösen Keimen freigehalten wird, indem die Haut des Kranken, die Hände und Instrumente des Operateurs keimfrei gemacht werden und die Wunde mit keimfreien Verbandstoffen bedeckt …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • asepsis — 1892, from a not + SEPSIS (Cf. sepsis) …   Etymology dictionary

  • asepsis — [ā sep′sis, əsep′sis] n. 1. the condition of being aseptic 2. aseptic treatment or technique …   English World dictionary

  • Asepsis — Unter Asepsis (griech. „Keimfreiheit“, wörtlich „ohne Fäulnis“) versteht man in der Medizin den Zustand der Keimfreiheit. Antiseptik sind die dazu führenden Maßnahmen. Abzugrenzen von dem Begriff der Asepsis ist die Antisepsis, die keine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • asepsis — /euh sep sis, ay sep /, n. 1. absence of the microorganisms that produce sepsis or septic disease. 2. Med. methods, as sterile surgical techniques, used to assure asepsis. [1890 95; A 6 + SEPSIS] * * * …   Universalium

  • asepsis — A condition in which living pathogenic organisms are absent; a state of sterility (2). [G. a priv. + sepsis, putrefaction] * * * asep·sis ( )ā sep səs, ə n, pl asep·ses .sēz 1) the condition of being aseptic …   Medical dictionary

  • Asepsis — Sterilität; Keimfreiheit * * * Asẹp|sis 〈f.; ; unz.; Med.〉 1. Keimfreiheit (z. B. von Wunden, Instrumenden) 2. = Aseptik [<grch. a „nicht“ + sepsis „Fäulnis“] * * * Asẹp|sis, die; [aus griech. a …   Universal-Lexikon

  • asepsis — n. the complete absence of bacteria, fungi, viruses, or other microorganisms that could cause disease. Asepsis is the ideal state for the performance of surgical operations and is achieved by using sterilization techniques. Derivatives: aseptic… …   The new mediacal dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”