A surgical drape is an essential tool in every operating room. The main job of the surgical drape is to prevent the patient's body fluids from contaminating the equipment, tables and medical staff in the room during the procedure. They also help avoid contamination of the patient's surgical site with their own skin flora or other microorganisms. To keep the surgical field sterile, various types of surgical drapes are hung or laid on surfaces around and adjacent to the patient. They act as a barrier to any fluid jets that occur during surgery and help ensure a sterile environment.

The question is, with many surgical drapes available, which one is the best option for your facility or specific procedure?

1. According to the ANSI/AAMI protection level of the surgical drape

Similar to surgical gowns, the most important factor to consider when choosing a surgical drape is to determine the level of protection required for the procedure. According to standards provided by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Association for the Advancement of Medical Devices (AAMI). These categories are:

Level 1: Provides a slight barrier to the penetration of small amounts of liquids with minimal risk. Such as: basic care, standard hospital medical units.

Level 2: Protection against penetration of large amounts of liquid by splash and some exposure by immersion in low risk situations. e.g. phlebotomy, sutures, intensive care unit.

Level 3: For medium risk situations, it protects against penetration of large liquids by splash and exposure of more liquids by immersion. e.g. intravenous injection, arterial blood draw, emergency room trauma.

Level 4: Prevents penetration of all liquids and prevents virus penetration for up to an hour in high-risk situations. e.g. large amount liquid exposure operations requiring pathogen resistance.

The type of surgery will determine risk and fluid exposure, which are the biggest factors in determining a surgical drape. The higher the risk, the more barrier protection your drape needs to provide.

2. Confirm whether the surgical drape is a one-time use

Once the desired level of protection is determined, another factor to consider is the choice of disposable or non-disposable drapes. However, if you choose reusable surgical drapes, then you must have the time and resources to properly sterilize them. Disposable surgical drapes do not require the cost or infrastructure required for sterilization. They are sterile, you use them for surgery and then dispose of them without worrying about contamination from improper sterilization.

3. Other factors

1). Make sure the surgical drape is free of lint - lint is a carrier of infection at the surgical site and a transport vehicle for microorganisms. Make sure the surgical drape you use is lint-free.

2). Surgical drapes are latex-free - Allergic events caused by latex are common in some types of surgical procedures.