How to Choose the Right Surgical Drape?

How to choose the right surgical drape

Surgeries represent intricate medical interventions that demand unwavering attention to detail. The slightest oversight can lead to severe complications, even risking lives. Surgery comprises a sequence of meticulous tasks, each contributing to a higher purpose – the preservation of a patient’s life. The surgical arena involves an array of equipment and protocols, serving as aids during procedures or as safeguards against potential postoperative infections. An integral component in this fight against infection is the surgical drape, a ubiquitous presence in almost all surgical interventions, serving to secure patient safety. These vital drapes play a pivotal role in averting surgical site infections (SSIs), reinforcing the commitment to patient well-being.

Surgical drape

Surgical drape used in the operation room

What are surgical drapes?

Surgical drapes are used to protect the patient from potential infection and injury during surgery. These surgical drapes have a sterile layer of material that inhibits the growth of bacteria on the fabric. These drapes are also used to keep the operation theatre clean. These drapes are also helpful in covering the operating room’s hardware so that it does not come into contact with the patient’s skin.

Types of surgical drapes?

Surgical drapes are available in a wide variety. Some of the common types of surgical drapes include the following.

  • Split Sheets Drape

These drapes are available in many sizes and designs. Due to the different lengths and widths of these sheets, these are used in many surgeries. Split sheets that have patches ensure more absorption and strength. Moreover, these drapes are used to isolate unprepared areas from the site of surgery.

  • Universal Surgical Drape

These drapes are used in hospitals. Additionally, these drapes are helpful in everyday work in the operating room. Surgical drapes are suitable for all kinds of surgeries.

  • Shoulder Arthroscopy Drape

These drapes are used for arthroscopy procedures. Surgical drapes are highly absorbent and thus protect the patients and healthcare workers from potential infection they can get from exposure to blood and body fluids and consequently help maintain a sterile surgical environment.

How are surgical drapes made?

The surgical drapes can either be disposable or reusable. Disposable drapes should be disposed of after use while reusable drapes can be used again after washing. According to the material, these drapes are classified into three categories. They can be made using:

  • Cloth
  • Paper
  • Plastic

A brief description of these types is as follows:

  • Cloth reusable drape

Reusable surgical drape

Reusable surgical drape

These drapes come with a hole in them that cannot be altered. These drapes can be washed and reused several times.

  • Paper disposable drapes

Disposable drapes are helpful in the sense that they allow the surgeon to cut an opening of any size and shape into these drapes.

  • Disposable plastic adhesive drapes

These drapes are opaque and clear and thus help in clear visualization of the patient during surgery.

What are surgical drapes made of?

The surgical drapes can be made using different materials. The most common material that is used to make surgical drapes is cotton but polyester and nonwoven can also be used. Each material provides some benefits and drawbacks and these should be selected according to the specific requirements of the patient. No matter the material these drapes are built of, these drapes must confirm some key factors including durability, infection resistance, comfort, airflow, and moisture management to be suitable for the patient.

How to choose the right surgical drape?

Choosing the right surgical drape can be challenging as it needs to ensure the fulfillment of many key factors. Also as these surgical drapes play a key role in preventing infection, it is highly significant to choose the right drapes to ensure the safety of the patient. Some of the key factors that must be taken into consideration while choosing the right drape include

  • Moisture management

The surgical drapes should be able to manage moisture effectively as it is the key factor to prevent potential infection and buildup. They should also provide resistance against fading and stains.

  • Resistance to infection

The drapes you choose must provide resistance to any potential infections the patient might get during surgery. This is extremely important as the primary purpose of using surgical drapes is to ensure the safety of the patients.

  • Durability

The drapes you choose should be highly durable so that there is less risk of tearing and damage which can cause complications. Therefore, it is highly significant that the drapes you choose should be durable and strong.

  • Airflow

During the surgical procedure, the drape must provide adequate airflow which is essential to protect the patient from overheating and excessive moisture buildup.

  • Comfort

The right surgical drapes should be comfortable and breathable to ensure the comfort of the patient.

  • Hygiene

Also, the surgical drapes should be kept clean to ensure a sterile environment for the patients. It can help you treat the patients effectively and prevent complications.


Surgeries are complex medical procedures that require complete attention to detail to perform the surgery effectively and to protect the patient from any potential infections and complications. For these reasons, a lot of equipment and methods are used to help achieve these goals.

Such a method that is used to prevent potential infections and complications in patients is surgical drapes. Surgical drapes provide better management of the operating room and can be lifesaving for patients and healthcare staff alike as these drapes help to absorb blood and other body fluids and prevent infection.

However, it is important to consider all the necessary details before choosing the right surgical drapes. The choice of the right surgical drape includes many key factors that must be checked to select the right surgical drape for the surgery. Surgical drapes that are chosen after considering these factors can be very helpful during surgeries and can help to prevent infections and other complications.

uzma e1714761913269

PhD Scholar (Pharmaceutics), MPhil (Pharmaceutics), Pharm D, B. Sc.

Uzma Zafar is a dedicated and highly motivated pharmaceutical professional currently pursuing her PhD in Pharmaceutics at the Punjab University College of Pharmacy, University of the Punjab. With a comprehensive academic and research background, Uzma has consistently excelled in her studies, securing first division throughout her educational journey.

Uzma’s passion for the pharmaceutical field is evident from her active engagement during her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program, where she not only mastered industrial techniques and clinical case studies but also delved into marketing strategies and management skills.

Throughout her career, Uzma has actively contributed to the pharmaceutical sciences, with specific research on suspension formulation and Hepatitis C risk factors and side effects. Additionally, Uzma has lent her expertise to review and fact-check articles for the Health Supply 770 blog, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the information presented.

As she continues her PhD, expected to complete in 2025, Uzma is eager to contribute further to the field by combining her deep knowledge of pharmaceutics with real-world applications to meet global professional standards and challenges.