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Blunt Needles May Cause Less Surgical Glove Perforations

Perforations rarer than with sharp needles following C-section, but physicians less satisfied

WEDNESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- The use of blunt needles may be associated with fewer glove perforations during closure following Caesarean delivery, but with lower physician satisfaction with the needles, according to research published in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Scott Sullivan, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues analyzed data from 194 patients undergoing Caesarean deliveries who were randomly assigned to closure with blunt or sharp needles. Researchers collected gloves used by the surgeon and assistant and tested them for perforation by filling them with water and squeezing, assessing rates of glove perforation as a stand-in for needlestick injuries.

The investigators found that glove perforations occurred at a significantly lower rate with blunt needles overall (relative risk, 0.66). Assistant surgeons had a lower risk of perforation with blunt needles (relative risk, 0.54), but the risk was not significantly reduced among the primary surgeons. Surgeons reported that they were less satisfied with the blunt needles, but roughly 92 percent rated them as "acceptable" or higher.

"The use of blunt needles is an effective technique to minimize the potential morbidity of accidental needlesticks to the health care team. Blunt needles have mechanical advantages over sharp needles in the protection against needlestick injuries, including the requirement of much greater force to induce glove perforation than sharp needles, and are less likely to break the skin if glove perforation occurs," the authors write.

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