Thinking of Buying... Non-Latex Surgical Gloves


Safety for your OR team and patients without sacrificing comfort, fit or feel.

THE RIGHT FEEL Hand surgeon Julie Woodside, MD, of OrthoCarolina in Charlotte, N.C., prefers a very thin non-latex glove because it lets her better feel her instruments.

As awareness of latex allergies has grown over the years, so, too, has the demand for non-latex gloves. Quality has caught up, too, so much so that it's hard to tell a non-latex glove from a latex glove in terms of comfort, tactile quality and elasticity.

"The gloves seem to feel exactly the same when you're wearing them," says hand surgeon Julie Woodside, MD, of OrthoCarolina in Charlotte, N.C.

"You'd probably never notice if it was latex or non-latex."

If you're shopping for non-latex gloves, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The basic material. Nitrile, a synthetic rubber, is the predominant material for non-latex gloves. Nitrile resists punctures, is good for wearing during lengthier cases and has a long shelf life. Nitrile gloves are pretty close to natural rubber latex gloves in terms of flexibility, sensitivity, thinness, feel and ease of donning, says Robert Brown, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md.

Non-latex gloves can also be made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber made by the polymerization of chloroprene; and polyisoprene, a man-made material that has a molecular structure similar to natural rubber latex.

  • Tactile sensation. Today's non-latex gloves are thinner and better in terms of feel — probably the most important factor to your surgeons.

"That tactile sensation has got to be right. You don't want the surgeons to feel like they're wearing those Playtex gloves you use to clean dishes," says Dr. Brown.

If you're transitioning to a non-latex surgical glove for the first time, keep in mind that your doctors' glove preference is a highly emotional thing.

"I always laugh when I come in the room because there are probably 15 different types of gloves in our OR. But I like only one kind," says Dr. Woodside. "You kind of feel picky, but if there's a different glove on you, it just feels wrong."

Dr. Brown says the conversion will go a lot smoother if the new glove feels similar — or at least not dramatically different — than what your docs were using before. "Let the surgeons get a comfort level with any new glove," he says. "Their professional career depends on their hands and their eyes."

  • Strength and fit. The non-latex gloves of 30 years ago were not good quality. They'd tear, rip and break. The nitrile gloves in the past 10 to 15 years are durable.

"They really hold up the way a natural rubber latex glove holds up," says Dr. Brown. "Many surgeons double-glove, so you don't want a lot of tension in the gloves. If the fit is not good and there is a lot of stress on their hands, their hands get tired over time. It's got to be a good fit, it's got to feel right in their hands."

Purchase wisely

OrthoCarolina held a glove trial. They invited glove reps to make presentations to the surgeons to find the best options. "The biggest thing with gloves nowadays — latex or non-latex — is that you can probably find a pair of each that feels the same. But the non-latex gloves save you from the risk of touching someone who has a latex allergy," says Dr. Woodside. OSM

Gammex PI Hybrid

Ansell Healthcare

Gammex PI Hybrid

FYI: The new Gammex PI Hybrid is made from a 50/50 blend of polyisoprene and neoprene that intertwines to form crosslinks between the polymers, providing a glove that features latex-like comfort of PI while also displaying the higher strength and durability associated with neoprene. It's an ideal outer glove within a double gloving system, says the company. The glove is semi-transparent, providing better visibility of breach detection when combined with a darker underglove. It is also micro-thin to provide sensitivity when double gloving.

Protexis Neopren\e

Cardinal Health

Protexis Neoprene

FYI: These neoprene gloves with nitrile coating are designed to be softer and thinner for enhanced tactile response, says the company. They feature a proprietary hand mold with an independent thumb design that allows for an anatomical fit and natural movement in the fingers, thumb and palm. An interlocking, beaded cuff design helps to reduce roll-down.

Criterion \PI

Henry Schein Medical

Criterion PI

FYI: This synthetic polyisoprene glove is skin-friendly, manufactured with a process that reduces the risk for sensitization and offers better tactile qualities and performance, says the company. It's fully anatomically shaped, designed to help prevent hand fatigue and can be used in all surgical applications. The glove can be donned easily and quickly, even when double-gloving.


Innovative Healthcare Corp.


FYI: This synthetic glove line includes a variety of material options, including polyisoprene, polychloroprene (neoprene) and the company's proprietary nitrile formulation. The synthetic material has all of the preferred physical characteristics of natural rubber latex without the natural rubber proteins and allergens. An aqueous gel interior provides superior donning, even when hands are damp or when double-gloving.

SensiCar\e PI

Medline Industries

SensiCare PI

FYI: One of only two companies in the world to manufacture polyisoprene — the raw material used in many latex-free gloves — Medline gathered data from its custom fitting app to measure the hands of thousands of surgeons and staff across the world. The goal was to improve comfort, reduce hand fatigue and optimally fit the majority of surgeons and staff. Made of Isolex polyisoprene, the powder-free line of gloves has improved elasticity with a soft surface, taking pressure off the hand and providing a comfortable feel.


M??lnlycke Health Care


FYI: Biogel gloves are made of synthetic polyisoprene, which shares a similar molecular structure to natural rubber latex. That might be why Biogel provides levels of fit, feel and comfort comparable to natural rubber latex. Featuring a curved finger design and a beaded cuff for added security, the powder-free, easy-to-don gloves conform to the hand like a second skin, says the company. Undergloves and overgloves are designed to provide a best-in-class puncture indication system that indicates 97% of glove breaches, says the company.

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