Postoperative pneumonia is the third most common complication after surgery, and its occurrence is associated with a poor prognosis in patients. Perioperative chlorhexidine oral care has been reported to reduce the incidence of postoperative pneumonia in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. However, whether perioperative chlorhexidine oral care can reduce the incidence of postoperative pneumonia in noncardiac surgical patients is still unknown. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine the association between perioperative chlorhexidine oral care and postoperative pneumonia in noncardiac surgical patients.
A comprehensive systematic search of PubMed, Ovid Embase, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, Wanfang Database, and the China National Knowledge Infrastructure was conducted to include studies from the inception of each database through March 2021. The reference lists of all included studies were also searched by hand. Eligible studies were published and unpublished randomized controlled trials and observational studies evaluating the effect of perioperative chlorhexidine oral care on the reported incidence of postoperative pneumonia. Relative risks or odds ratio with their 95% confidence intervals were calculated and risk of bias was assessed for eligible studies.
Seven randomized controlled trials with a total of 1,773 patients and 3 observational studies with a total of 12,528 noncardiac surgical patients were included. A total of 621 and 5,904 patients received perioperative chlorhexidine oral care in randomized controlled trials and observational studies, respectively. Six (85%) randomized controlled trials had a high risk of bias, and 2 (67%) observational studies had a high quality. Perioperative chlorhexidine oral care significantly reduced the incidence of postoperative pneumonia in randomized controlled trials (relative risk, 0.60; 95% confidence interval, 0.44-0.80; P < .001) and observational studies (odds ratio, 0.26; 95% confidence interval, 0.08-0.90; P = .03).
Perioperative chlorhexidine oral care led by a nurse significantly decreases the incidence of postoperative pneumonia in noncardiac surgical patients and may be more convenient and economical compared with dental professional-led perioperative oral care.

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