Fibres and the surgical dressings made from them are of immense value in medical and pharmaceutical practices. Dressings are compulsorily needed for proper management and subsequent healing of wounds caused by injuries, burns, microbial infections and surgical operations. They are used to provide ample protection to the exposed tissues against microbial infections and other natural hazards. The surgical dressings not only aid the healing process but also help stop further tissue damage. The success of wound management largely depends on the type and quality of the dressings used. To be able to choose the right kind of the surgical dressings one must be aware of the types of available dressings, their qualities and usefulness, The quality of a surgical dressing depends on the type of the fibre used to prepare the dressing. Since the pharmacists are responsible for handling and dispensing most medical aids including the surgical dressings they should possess a good knowledge of the suitable fibres and the surgical dressings made from them.
Fibres are used for dressing purposes both in their normal forms and in woven or fabric forms. Fibres that are useful in wound management and healing include both natural and artificial or synthetic fibres. Natural fibres may be of plant or animal origin. Plant fibres include epidermal trichomes, such as cotton, and other fibrous tissues of plants, such as phloem fibres (e.g. Jute) and pericyclic fibres (e.g. Flax and Hemp). Fibres of animal origin are derived from some animal products such as wool and silk. Artificial fibres, prepared by processing or regenerating some tissue elements of plants such as wood cellulose (e.g. Rayon, Cellulose Wadding and Alginate fibres), are also frequently used in wound management and surgical dressings. Some synthetically prepared fibres, such as Nylon and Terylene, have also been used for dressing wounds and bums. The various groups of fibres used for surgical dressings may be conveniently summarized in the foil owing way:
Some of these natural, regenerated and synthetic fibres used for surgical dressings are briefly described in the following pages in the form of Monographs.