Functional finishes to surgical fabrics for blood repellency and anti-microbial action boost the protection level for doctors in a hospital, say N Mekala and Dr J Srinivasan.

Sterilised gowns do not offer a permanent solution in hospitals. The sterilisation process must be carried out repeatedly without which microorganisms may harm doctors and paramedics. Functional finishes, applied to cover the inherent weaknesses of cotton and polyester, may be an alternative to overcome this problem. As the comfort level of surgical gowns depends on the fabrics, the fabric variety assumes key importance.

Textile products offer a conducive environment for bacterial growth, which may cause health problems and inconvenience due to odour and fabric disorientation. As microbes often attack the additives applied to the textiles, it leads to discoloration and loss of its functional properties, like elasticity.

In this study, two types of fabric - one pure cotton and the other a 67:33 polyester-cotton (P/C) blend - were selected and dyed with vat (bucket) dyeing process. The dye used for the cotton fabric was jade green 2G, while blue MR was used for the other. For safety, the fabrics were treated with anti-microbial silver and a blood-repellent perfluorocarbon (PFC) coating through pad dry cure method (pad-85 per cent, dry on wet dry/shock cure-140'C/60 min).

The treated samples were evaluated for changes in physical and functional characteristics. Impact penetration test (AATCC 42-2000) and spray test (AATM) were used for assessing the blood repellent finish. Agar diffusion method was used to assess the anti-microbial finish at the incubation chamber in CMS College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore.

The fabrics were finished with anti-microbial and blood repellent finishes by using chemicals obtained from Clariant Chemicals Pvt Limited in Tiruppur as shown in Table 2.

Table 1: Specification of materials