The passage of bacteria through surgical drapes is a potential cause of wound infection. Previous studies have
shown that liquids and human albumin penetrate certain types of drapes. We studied the passage of bacteria through
seven different types of surgical drapes and an operating tray. Bacteria easily penetrated all the woven re-usable fabrics
within 30 min. The disposable non-woven drapes proved to be impermeable, as did the operating tray. We recommend
the use of non-woven disposable drapes or woven drapes with an impermeable operating tray in all surgical cases.
Infection remains a problem despite modem aseptic surgical techniques and the routine use of antibiotics. There is also growing concem over the
infection of healthcare workers by patients, particularly those with the hepatitis and human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV). It has been
postulated that acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) can be acquired by skin contact with HIV-infected blood. Braathen et al.
suggested that HIVhas an affinity for the Langerhans’ cells of the skin9 and, in 1987, the Centers for Disease Control reported three cases of nonpercutaneous transmission of HIVin healthcare workers.