Nonwovens: The Key to Surgical Safety and Comfort

Published: 27 May 2004

By Vaishnavi Ananthanarayanan, Research Analyst, Medical Devices, Europe

Safety and Comfort are two characteristics that are always desired but are seldom found in equal proportions. When we talk about a field like surgery, the safety of all those involved, right from the patient, the surgeon to the OR technician and scrub nurse is of utmost importance. It is however equally important to have great degree of comfort in the surgical apparel to help the surgeons and other skilled staff perform better. Moreover there is also a marked rise of infectious diseases and many new Standards and Regulations have been enforced in the healthcare sector worldwide

The Medical Market today is seeing the advent of a variety of innovative materials and technology that aim at fulfilling these needs. The focus is predominantly on nonwovens, which is the material of choice for a variety of applications today. Almost 60% of hospitals all over the world, today, use single-use Drapes and Gowns which are made from nonwoven material.

Nonwovens have been produced through time from paper, textiles, leather and plastic. With increasing demand in a wide variety of industries, the production of innovative nonwovens emerged as an industry by itself and uniquely and specifically engineered fabrics are produced today. Nonwoven fabrics possess excellent properties of fire, liquid and tear resistance, resilience and biodegradability.
Around 70% of the American Market, 50% of the European Market and 30% of the other Markets in the world are currently using nonwovens in surgical practice. The use of traditional cotton and cotton-polyester mixed textiles is rapidly coming down as these fabrics fail to meet the requirements of the new standard, i.e. resistance to penetration by microbiological microorganisms, liquids and particle release.

The key Challenges in the complete conversion to the use of disposable nonwovens is the existing laundry and re-sterilisation infrastructure, the perceived cost of disposables and the logistics and manpower.

In the future, with more stringent Government Regulations, there would be a greater trend towards the use of single-use, nonwovens as they not only comply with the infection control norms but also offer superior barrier, convenience and comfort to the end-users.


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