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J Natl Med Assoc. 2003 Dec;95(12):1184-8.

Incidence of glove failure during orthopedic operations and the protective effect of double gloves.

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Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, College of Health Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Nigeria.



To determine the usefulness of double gloves in protecting against the exposure of surgical team members' hands to blood.


Five-hundred-ninety-six gloves were studied during 71 orthopedic operations using the water-loading test (filling a glove with water and occluding its cuff tightly to identify leaking points).


In all, 73 glove perforations occurred, but only nine resulted in exposure to blood (blood touching the skin). The incidence of glove perforation was 12% (73/596), and overall exposure (blood touching the skin) per operation was 13% (9/71). The latter would have been 87% (62/71) but for the use of double gloves. Sixteen percent of the perforations in double gloves were in the inner gloves, while 84% were in the outer gloves. Exposure of surgeons was reduced from 54% to 10%, first assistants from 27% to 3%, and second assistants from 7% to 0 (p < 0.02, df = 2) by double-gloving. Significantly more perforations occurred during operations on bone, compared with soft tissue operations, p < 0.0001, RR = 4 (95% CL 1.87-8.55). The most common sites of glove perforation were the index finger (47%), thumb, and the palm region: 14% each. More glove perforations occurred in nondominant hands.


Double-gloving offers additional protection to surgeons and assistants by preventing hand exposure to blood intraoperatively.

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