Surgery has come a long way since Sushruta, probably the world’s first plastic surgeon to have practised his craft as far back as 600 BC. The ancient Egyptians and the Arabs practised elementary surgery. Fast forward to Europe of the 18th century Joseph Lister discovered antiseptic surgery. A new era was born. Surgery has made great strides since then with the basic concept of asepsis being refined to higher levels of safety for patients and surgeons. Masks, hair covering, gloves and theater boots are standard paraphernalia for surgeons in operation theatres. Each component is important and the surgical gown plays a crucial role.
Today there are various types of surgical gowns in use ranging from the classic gown made of soft breathable material to the ultimate gown used in challenging surgical procedures. In between there is the fluid repellent gown with T cut design and the urology impermeable surgical gown.
Surgical gowns play a vital role:
• Surgeons are fully protected from contracting any infecting during operations. They are exposed to and have to handle pus, blood and other materials. Impermeable gowns used in operations prevent the transmission of virus, pathogens, chemicals and bacteria from the patient to the surgeon.
• Even though a surgeon may use antiseptic agents to clean his hands and his body prior to the operation, there will always be traces of bacteria in the skin and hair. These can fall into open body parts of the patient undergoing surgery and infect him. Even other surgical staff are required to wear such protective barriers to ensure that the air is not contaminated by bacteria or pathogens.
• Blood and other fluids from the patient may stain clothes of the surgical staff. Gowns prevent this from happening.
Use of such protective barriers reduces the risk of post operative would infections. At one time surgical gowns were made of cotton or synthetic materials and were usually cleaned and reused after sterilization. The current trend is to use one-time use, disposable gowns made of non-woven polyester fibres for the body and sleeve with a polythene plastic film at the front as a liquid resistant covering.