Asepsis is the state of being free from disease-causing contaminants (such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) or, preventing contact with microorganisms. The term asepsis often refers to those practices used to promote or induce asepsis in an operative field in surgery or medicine to prevent infection. Ideally, a surgical field is "sterile," meaning it is free of all biological contaminants, not just those that can cause disease, putrefaction, or fermentation, but that is a situation that is difficult to attain, especially given the patient is often a source of infectious agents. Therefore, there is no current method to safely eliminate all of the patients' contaminants without causing significant tissue damage. However, elimination of infection is the goal of asepsis, not sterility. Ayliffe et al. (2000) suggest that there are two types of asepsis: medical and surgical asepsis. Medical or clean asepsis reduces the number of organisms and prevents their spread; surgical or sterile asepsis includes procedures to eliminate micro-organisms from an area and is practiced by surgical technologists and nurses in operating theaters and treatment areas.
Techniques for creating a sterile field are well represented by the Association for Surgical Technicians .