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Medical and Hygiene

The Textile Institute defines medical textiles as;

'A textile structure which has been designed and produced for use in a variety of medical applications, including implantable applications'.

Therefore Medical and Hygiene textiles encompass all textile based materials used in health and hygiene applications in both consumer and medical markets. Medical textiles can be further sub-divided into implantable and non-implantable. Figure 1 displays a range of applications for non-implantable end uses, such as bandages, plasters, dressings and wipes which can be impregnated with active substances, such as anti-microbial agents. 

Sutures which are used for stitching wounds, and other bio-implantable structures such as; soft tissue implants, artificial tendons (meshes), ligaments, cartilage, and heart valves, can comprise of Biodegradable? and non-degradable materials.  Implantable textiles are designed for specific biological environments where their performance depends on Biocompatibility? with cells and biological tissue or fluids.

Hollow synthetic fibres, or cyclodextrins grafted onto the fibre containing drugs are used to deliver drugs topically to a specific part of the body, this kind of technology has seen widespread use in applications such as the nicotine or contraceptive patch, which is a self adhesive textile patch applied to skin to provide a steady rate release of drugs. 

Fig 1

Figure 1. Demonstrates textile materials used in non-implantable applications. From Development of Medical Textiles Market:  (http://www.fibtex.lodz.pl/49_06_13.pdf)

Figure 1 demonstrates the fibre type and fabric structure used across a range of applications. It can be noted that non-woven materials are widely used in the medical and hygiene sector, in most applications this is because the disordered fibre orientation creates a larger surface area and greater number of pores required for Capillary Forceshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capillary_action are responsible to drive the liquid in capillary spaces. (Click here for more information)">capillary wickinghttp://www.thesmarttime.com/articles/wetting-wicking-3.htm, or liquid absorbency, within the structure.   Knitted structures are also widely used due to their ability to stretch and move to meet the bodies form and allow movement, over that of a woven or non-woven structure. 



Fig 2

Figure 1. Technical Fibre use across the Technical Textile Sectors.

Figure 1 demonstrates that 8.1% of technical textile fibres produced are used in the Medical, Pharma and Health sector. 


Quality matters; Creating value with biomedical textiles leads to innovative quality practices, DSM, White paper, February 2012. (pdf)


Biomaterials for Healthcare; A Decade of EU-funded research. European Commision


Observatory nano report looks at the use of nanoscience in Health, Medicine and Nanobio. It reviews wound care and smart textiles.



Medilink Yorkshire and Humber (Y&H) Ltd is a business led private sector partnership dedicated to the growth and development of the Health technology and related Life Sciences Industries in the Yorkshire and Humber region. - http://www.medilink.co.uk/

Medipex Ltd is the NHS Innovation Hub for the Yorkshire and Humber region in the UK providing technology and knowledge transfer services to the UK's. - http://www.medipex.co.uk/