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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The protective efficacy of surgical latex gloves against the risk of skin contamination: how well are the operators protected?

Latex gloves are used by surgical staff to avoid exposure to patient body fluids, thus reducing the risk of contracting bloodborne viral diseases, such as hepatitis C and HIV. We studied the efficacy of the surgical barrier provided by latex gloves, before and after use in the operating theater. The electrical conductivity, insulation and mechanical resistance of glove latex were investigated, using routine supplies of surgical gloves. Latex structure was assessed by scanning electron microscopy and by mercury intrusion porosimetry. Latex is subject to hydration, a phenomenon associated in the laboratory with the loss of its electrical insulation properties. Such glove latex properties were found to be highly variable, with latex hydration times varying between 2 and more than 30 min. Rapidly hydrating gloves showed increased permeability to methylene blue, associated with higher levels of porosity. Thirty min of surgical use was associated with measurable hydration of glove latex and a statistically significant loss of electrical and mechanical resistance, with rupture load decreasing by 24%. Electronic control of the insulation properties of gloves during surgery permits early detection of hydration, and allows prompt correction by glove change, before the gloves lose their electrical and mechanical competence.[1]


  1. The protective efficacy of surgical latex gloves against the risk of skin contamination: how well are the operators protected? Hentz, R.V., Traina, G.C., Cadossi, R., Zucchini, P., Muglia, M.A., Giordani, M. Journal of materials science. Materials in medicine. (2000) [Pubmed]
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