Evaluation of Surgical Glove Integrity: Does an African Country Receive Inferior Quality?


  • Abebe Bekele Addis Ababa University
  • Barnabas Alayande
  • Mesikir Abate
  • Nardos Mekonnen
  • Dieudonne Hakizimana
  • Daniel Zemenfes


Glove perforation, surgical quality, occupational injury


In a 2017 study, the incidence of glove perforation in Addis Ababa was found higher than most other publications. This poses a significant threat to both patients and the surgical workforce. We hypothesized that poor surgical glove quality may have contributed to the high incidence. Hence, we tested the integrity of six  brands of sterile gloves. The assumption was the perforation rate in these gloves would be higher than the standard acceptable quality level (AQL).

From the 1,200 single gloves evaluated, 59 (4.9%) gloves had perforations. Brand 1 (13.5%) and Brand 5 (10%) had the highest rate of perforations, followed by Brand 3 (3.0%) Brand 6 (2.0%), Brand 2 (1.0%) and Brand 4, which had 0 perforations. Compared to the standard AQL 1.5 for surgical gloves at the time of the study, Brand 1 and Brand 5 had a significantly higher perforation rate (13.5%, CI=8.8%-18.2%, p=0.000) and (10.0%, CI=5.8%-14.2%, p=0.000), respectively.

Our study results showed unacceptably high rates of perforation for 2 glove brands. The implications of this are staggering for surgical staff.  In Ethiopia, choice of surgical glove brand may be a determinant of surgical safety.

In view of our findings of a large proportion of glove perforations prior to use, we recommend, at minimum, that surgeons visually inspect gloves before and after donning. Relevant government institutions, contractors, importers, hospital administrators, and surgical teams must take collective responsibility for ensuring appropriate quality of gloves. Quality enforcement must be strengthened, and local production must be considered.


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