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Developments in medical textiles creating the future of textiles

Active barrier protective fabrics for protection and comfort in health care apparel:

The health care market is evolving and driving the need for new technologies. A long time ago, all serious sickness was handled in the hospital or in the operating room in highly controlled environments for patients and workers. Today, patient care takes place in hospitals, surgery centres, nursing homes, clinics, labs, doctors’ offices and sometimes even in patients’ homes. Workers in some of these settings are not always required to wear protective clothing and as such can be exposed to microorganisms that transmit disease. At the same time, there has been an explosion in superbugs such as MRSA, adding another element of risk.
Active barrier protective fabrics are a game changer for medical textiles and a tremendous leap forward because they provide vital protection to health care workers while still offering comfort. These professionals often have intermittent exposure to blood and bodily fluids and frequently encounter the threat or risk of transferring infection to patients or the community.

Last year a number of industry reports examined the problem of contaminated health care worker uniforms, both in the United States and abroad. A team at Virginia Commonwealth University published a clinical study that documented evidence that the active barrier protective uniforms actually did repel the superbug MRSA as compared to regular scrub uniforms, demonstrating that these garments provide a clinically proven solution to this problem.

The active barrier protective uniforms used in the study contained a fluid barrier combined with biocidal decontamination and comfort properties in the fabric. These three components work together to prevent, reduce or eliminate the acquisition and retention of contaminants on the uniforms. The fabrics are designed for continuous wear throughout a shift and can be worn with personal protective equipment to keep both the workers and patients safe.

Studies by Lu, Kyratsis and others all point to three things health care workers want:

  • Protection from exposure, colonization and infections
  • Comfortable fabrics that fit well and look nice
  • Evidence of effectiveness of technologies in peer-reviewed medical literature

Traditional uniforms in the health care field are not protective and workers are well aware of this. Nurses, for example, are exposed to a variety of contaminants, and many will immediately remove their uniform and shower after completing their shift because they know that their garments do not provide them any sort of protection.

Major medical universities, hospital systems, departments and offices have been early adopters of Vestex Active Barrier uniforms based on its design and early research. With the release of the studies showing the benefits of these garments, Vestagen has seen a significant acceleration in adoption. Emergency medicine and trauma departments, emergency medical technicians and health care employees at risk of infection due to their work in critical care, cancer care, transplant, neonates, dialysis, diabetes, and surgical areas recognize the benefits.

Using weaving & nonwoven technology for High-precision vascular grafts:

Biomedical Structures LLC (BMS), a developer of biomedical textiles for medical devices and other advanced clinical applications, announced new capabilities for the high-precision development and manufacturing of vascular grafts.

With the ability to taper very fine fabrics, BMS creates straight and bifurcated tubes for woven grafts supporting endovascular stent systems designed to prevent abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture, as well as for other percutaneous coronary intervention stent procedures and peripheral vascular grafts throughout the extremities. Tapered tubes more naturally match human anatomy and allow device designers to marry specific dimensions to aortic geometries to more closely mimic functional shape.

BMS enables this device design with new weaving equipment for very fine polyester, UHMWPE and other fibres. Fine-woven techniques enable strength and flexibility while limiting stretch, which allows for tempered movement and makes an ideal solution for vascular grafts alongside the heart and throughout the body. According to a 2011 report, the peripheral vascular device market is expected to grow to more than $7.1 billion by 2018, and will be fuelled in part by the sale of stent grafts. The market for stent grafts itself, which includes abdominal aortic aneurysm and thoracic aortic aneurysm stent grafts, is estimated to almost double in value.

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