Surgical Dressings

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Fibres, Sutures and Surgical Dressings

A material used to protect a wound and to heal is called a surgical dressing. They serve various functions for the injured site.




A material used to protect a wound and to heal is called a surgical dressing. They serve various functions for the injured site. They remove wound exudates from the site, prevent infection, and give physical protection to the healing wound and mechanical support to the supporting tissues. A good quality of dressing should be durable, easy to handle, sterilized, formed from loose threads and fibres, and it should not adhere to the granulating surface.


Surgical dressings are classified as:


Primary Wound Dressings


Primary wound dressings are applied over the wound surface to absorb pus, mucus and blood. They minimize maceration. Some dressings adhere to the wound surface and cause pain on removing them. Now nonadherent dressings are available such as petrolatum-impregnated gauge, viscose gauze impregnated with a bland, hydrophilic oil-in-water emulsion or an absorbent pad faced with a soft plastic film having openings.




Absorbent cotton is widely used to absorb wound secretions. Other absorbent materials are rayon wool, cotton wool, gauze pads, laparotomy sponges, sanitary napkins, disposable cleaners, eye pads, nursing pads, and cotton tip applications. They are used in the shape of balls or pads.




A bandage is a material which holds dressing at the required site, applies pressure, or supports an injured part or checks haemorrhage. The bandages may be elastic or nonelastic in nature. Common gauze roller bandage and muslin bandage rolls are employed most frequently. Elastic bandages may be woven to form elastic bandage, crepe bandage and conforming bandage.


Adhesive Tapes


Surgical adhesive tapes may be a rubber-based adhesive or an acrylate adhesive. Rubber adhesive tapes are cheap, superior and provide strength of backing. In case of operation or postoperation acrylate, adhesive tapes are used to reduce skin trauma.




Protectives are employed to cover wet dressings, poultices, and for retention of heat. They prevent the escape of moisture from the dressing. Some protectives are plastic sheeting, rubber sheeting, waxed or oil-coated papers, and plastic-coated papers.


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