Innovative uses of disposable gloves in plastic surgery
Amitabh S. Thacoor
Received: 29 September 2016 /Accepted: 5 October 2016 /Published online: 21 October 2016
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016
Surgical gloves are indispensable during operative procedures
to maintain antisepsis. In 1896, William S. Halsted from the
Johns Hopkins Hospital pioneered their use initially as a pro-
tective tool protecting the surgeon’s hands against the hazard-
ous dermatological effects of potent antiseptics used at the
time . Surgical gloves evolved into a safety barrier against
cross-contamination between surgeon and patient over the
years, following Werner von Manteuffel’s first publication
comparing the use of boiled sterilised rubber gloves to oper-
ating with boiled hands in 1897 . Since then, the use of
surgical gloves has been extended beyond their role in anti-
sepsis, particularly in the field of plastic and reconstructive
surgery. We hereby summarise 50 of their innovative uses in
hand trauma, tissue reconstruction, burns management,
cranio-facial surgery and simulation.
1. Digital tourniquet: A simple technique to reduce
contamination during hand surgery as well as creating
a tourniquet-effect has been reported by Tang and
Bebbington  where an appropriate size sterile glove
is placed on the patient’s hand following adequate skin
preparation. The glove finger tip is cut distally to isolate
the injured finger and the remaining glove is rolled down
to the metacarpophalanageal joint to act as a tourniquet
2. Wrist tourniquet: In addition, the use of a glove tourni-
quet more proximally at the wrist has been reported by
Guirguis and Bell  where a bloodless field was
achieved in 24 of 25 patients.
3. Jewelley insulator: Suliman et al.  described introduc-
ing a glove between patient skin and jewellery and
rolling it to over the jewellery thereby reducing the risk
of diathermy-induced electrical and thermal injury intra-
4. Hand holder: Together with draping towels, a glove can
be used as a hand-holding device intra-operatively .
5. Fracture traction: Hovnanian described using a surgical
glove to provide continuous longitudinal traction follow-
ing phalangeal fracture reduction .
6. Fracture reduction: A digit cut from a sterile glove is
wrapped circumferentially around the phalangeal frac-
ture site and clamped, providing stable external circum-
ferential glove reduction (ECGR) of the fracture to aid
percutaneous fixation .
7. Removal of strangulated fingers: A reverse glove tech-
nique described by Stromps can be used to remove stran-
gulated fingers during digital trauma .
8. Hand anatomy teaching: As a simulation tool for teach-
ing hand anatomy .
9. Pre-operative flap design: Used pre-operatively to plan
and outline flap location and dimensions .
10. Eponychial fold splint: A cut tip of a surgical glove
can be applied over a repaired nailplate injury to
prevent eponychial fold collapse by acting as a nail
* Amitabh S. Thacoor
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Guys and St
Thomas’ Hospitals, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7EH,
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Bradford Royal
Infirmary, Bradford, UK
Eur J Plast Surg (2017) 40:165–168