Chapter 2: Table of Contents
While wearing a labcoat to cover your surgical scrubs, clip and vacuum the hair over the proposed surgical field and beyond (e.g. clip from xiphoid to pubis and beyond the level of the mammary chain for an ovariohysterectomy). Hair is usually removed from 10-15 cm on either side of the proposed incision site using clippers and a number 40 blade. With the clippers held using a pencil grip, the hair is first cut along the hair growth pattern to remove the bulk of the hair. Then the clippers are turned 180 degrees to cut against the hair growth pattern allowing a closer clip to be performed. Extra clipping is recommended beyond either end of the expected site to permit extension of the incision without entering an unclipped area in case of emergency. The clipped hair is then removed using a vacuum to remove as much loose hair as possible prior to skin preparation. Remember to vacuum all hair that has fallen on the table and fleece to prevent moving hair into the surgery suite during transport. Once the hair is clipped, you should remove (or replace) your lab coat prior to performing the remainder of the patient preparation since hair will likely have stuck on the lab coat and the loose lab coat sleeves might accidently drag on the surgical field during prepping. Most protocols recommend to don non sterile exam gloves as well as a hat and mask at this time, prior to performing the skin preparation.
Shaving (using a razor) in small animals causes excessive trauma to the skin (microlacerations) and irritation releasing increased numbers of normal bacteria from the cornified layers of the skin. This can increase the risk of incisional infection.