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Am J Infect Control. 2010 Mar;38(2):154-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2009.06.013. Epub 2009 Oct 12.

Concentration of bacteria passing through puncture holes in surgical gloves.

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Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Ernst Moritz Arndt University, Greifswald, Germany.



The reasons for gloving-up for surgery are to protect the surgical field from microorganisms on the surgeon's hands and protect the surgeon from the patient's microorganisms. This study measured the concentration of bacteria passing through glove punctures under surgical conditions.


Double-layered surgical gloves were worn during visceral surgeries over a 4-month period. The study included 128 outer gloves and 122 inner gloves from 20 septic laparotomies. To measure bacterial passage though punctures, intraoperative swabs were made, yielding microorganisms that were compared with microorganisms retrieved from the inner glove layer using a modified Gaschen bag method.


Depending on the duration of glove wear, the microperforation rate of the outer layer averaged 15%. Approximately 82% of the perforations went unnoticed by the surgical team. Some 86% of perforations occurred in the nondominant hand, with the index finger being the most frequently punctured location (36%). Bacterial passage from the surgical site through punctures was detected in 4.7% of the investigated gloves.


Depending on the duration of wear, surgical gloves develop microperforations not immediately recognized by staff. During surgery, such perforations allow passage of bacteria from the surgical site through the punctures. Possible strategies for preventing passage of bacteria include strengthening of glove areas prone to punctures and strict glove changing every 90 minutes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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