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Types of Surgical Drapes

Updated February 21, 2017

Surgical drapes are pieces of cloth or plastic placed over surgical machinery, surgical tables and other objects present in the operating room. The drapes are made from varying materials and often reinforced so that body fluids will not seep through them.

Cardiovascular Drapes

Cardiovascular drapes are used for cardiovascular procedures and are designed to withstand long procedures. They are outfitted with a self-adhesive that will secure the area around the incision. Cardiovascular drapes are usually light and strong. Often, cardiovascular drapes are designed to be resistant to lint build-up so as to avoid bacterial infection and are reinforced so that body fluids will not seep through them.

Orthopaedic Drapes

Orthopaedic drapes are designed for orthopaedic surgeries. Orthopaedic surgeries usually involve the muscular and skeletal systems. Orthopaedic surgical drapes usually have smaller incision areas than other types of drapes and are designed for surgeries ranging from hip to arthroscopy. Common features of orthopaedic drapes include fluid collection pouches, low lint creation and high resistance to tearing, strikethrough and abrasion.

Other Types of Specialized Drapes

Specialised drapes come in packs designed for general surgery, gynaecology and obstetrics, neurology and urology.

Woven Surgical Drapes

Woven surgical drapes are commonly made from either linen or cotton. Linen is a common material from which surgical drapes are manufactured. Usually, linen surgical drapes are woven with 140 to 160 threads per square inch, while cotton drapes usually have 280 threads per square inch. A big problem with linen surgical drapes is that they are not liquid repellent and contain high levels of lint. Woven drapes have a host of issues with sterilisation and contamination risk.

Non-Woven Surgical Drapes

Non-woven surgical drapes are made from synthetic materials such as nylon, rayon and polyester, held together with cellulose fibres. Non-woven surgical drapes were created to approach all the problems that arose with woven surgical drapes. These types of drapes provide an excellent barrier, a low level of linting and are tear resistant. They are usually disposed after one use.

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About the Author

Justin Mitchell has been a writer since 2009. In 2002, he received a B.A. in theater and writing from the University of Northern Colorado. Mitchell worked as an ESL teacher in Europe and Asia before earning a master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York. He has written for the "New York Daily News" and WNYC.org, among other outlets.