Antimicrobial Medical Textiles

Medical textiles produced for optimum performance

Regardless of their end use, medical textiles need to incorporate a multitude of characteristics to help them perform. Cleanliness of facilities and materials is another important factor in producing quality medical textiles. Furthermore, many medical device manufacturers are racing to incorporate antimicrobial properties into their products. An antimicrobial is any substance that inhibits the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi – a primary goal in any clinical setting. Like many textiles across a variety of industries, manufacturers are incorporating green properties into their medical textiles. Standard Textile’s efforts are focused on reducing the environmental impact of all the products.

The root of a medical textile’s performance, of course, is often found in the fibers used to create the product. Secant, for one, uses a variety of textiles, including polyesters and polypropylene, in addition to making fabrics out of absorbable polymers. In tandem with understanding the fibers themselves, a manufacturer also needs to understand their full potential [1].

Researchers’ advancement to improve and create antimicrobial based medical textiles

Creating a new medical textile or improving upon existing technology often involves integrating the right mix of research, marketability and innovation. Following are the some researches which are carried out in the field of medical textiles.

Thomsan Research Associates markets a range of antimicrobials under the trade name Ultrafresh for the textile and polymer industry. Ultrafresh products were developed to be used in normal textile processes. Most Ultrafresh treatments are non-ionic and are compatible with a wide range of binders and finishes. To incorporate antibacterial into high temperature fibres like polyester and nylon, it is necessary to use an inorganic antimicrobial like Ultrafresh CA-16 or PA-42. These must be added as a special master batch to the polymer mixture before the extrusion process.

For fibres such as polypropylene which are extruded at lower temperatures, it is possible to use organic antimi-crobials such as Ultrafresh Nm-100, Dm-50 or XQ-32 [2].

In the case of Rossari’s Fabshield with AEGIS microbe shield programme, the cell membrane of the bacteria gets ruptured when the microbes come in contact with the treated surface. Thus, preventing consumption of antimicrobial over a period of time and remain functional throughout the life of the product. The active substance 3-Trimethoxy silyl propyldimethyl octadecyl ammonium chloride gets attached to the substrate either through bond formation on the surface or by micropolymersing and forming a layer on the treated surface; the antimicrobial agent disrupts the cell membrane of the microbes through physical and ionic phenomena [3].

Ciba Specialty Chemicals markets Tinosan AM 110 as a durable antimicrobial agent for textiles made of polyester and polyamide fibres and their blends with cotton, wool or other fibres. Tinosan contains an active antimicrobial (2, 4, 4′-Trichloro-2′ – hydroxyl-dipenylether) which behaves like a colourless disperse dye and can be exhausted at a very high exhaustion rate on to polyester and polyamide fibres when added to the dye bath [4].

Clariant markets the Sanitized range of Sanitized AG, Switzerland for the hygienic finish of both natural and synthetic fibres. The branded Sanitized range functions as a highly effective bacteriostatic and fungistatic finishes and can be applied to textile materials such as ladies hosiery and tights [5].

Actigard finishes from Clariant are used in carpets to combat action of bacteria, house dust mites and mould fungi. Avecia.s Purista-branded products treated with Reputex 20 which is based on poly (hexamethylene) biguanide hydrochloride (PHMB) claimed to possess a low mammalian toxicity and broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. PHMB is particularly suitable for cotton and cellulosic textiles and can be applied to blends of cotton with polyester and nylon [6].