The adhesive-based medical device sector, relatively inactive for many decades, is seeing a surge of innovation. The sector continues to expand in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, with global sales expected to exceed $2 billion annually by 2015. Clinicians today have a broader selection of advanced medical adhesives to choose from than ever before.

Providing Holistic Care
Several factors underlie the recent innovations. One is the trend toward more holistic, personalized medical care. This has led to greater awareness among clinicians of the role medical adhesives play in patient comfort and recovery, as well as the effects that certain medical conditions have on wound healing.

For example, older patients or patients with compromised immune systems, may have highly sensitive skin and experience irritation when exposed to conventional adhesives. Often, these patients require dressings and adhesives with specialized performance characteristics.

The need to address preventable infections is another factor. Conventional general-purpose adhesive products are a possible cause of some infections. Hospitals and clinicians are seeking alternatives in order to improve patient outcomes.

Alternative to Tape Rolls
These factors have created demand for and spurred development of new-generation adhesive-based products tailored to specific applications, such as vascular access and wound care, including securement and closure. Notable examples can be seen in the BeneHold portfolio of securement products from Avery Dennison Medical Solutions.

Avery Dennison BeneHold Medical Tape Strips come in 1/2 and 1-inch widths and feature an adhesive-free tab at both ends that allows easy handling even with gloved hands. (Photo courtesy of Avery Dennison Medical Solutions)

The portfolio’s new medical tape strips offer clinicians a potential alternative to traditional roll tape, which is one of the few medical products that is often shared among multiple patients. Clinicians commonly carry roll tape in their pockets between patient sites, apply it without gloved hands, and sometimes, adhere it to bedsides or tray tables. A number of studies have detected the presence of bacteria on roll tape used in hospitals; one study found that a full revolution of the tape had to be removed before reaching uncontaminated tape.

The tape strips option addresses clinician concerns about infection control. They are highly breathable perforated strips of paper tape coated with a hypoallergenic, latex-free acrylic adhesive. Their breathable design minimizes the risk of skin softening or maceration during use. The strips adhere to dry or slightly moist skin and can be used to secure dressings, devices, and light- to medium-weight tubing.

Cutting Waste
The tape strips’ sheet format and design enable hospitals to comply with government guidelines and reduce waste in certain applications, such as dialysis treatment. In the U.S., for example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ruled in 2008 that all items taken into hospital dialysis areas should be dedicated for use on a single patient, or cleaned and disinfected before use on another patient. Items that cannot be disinfected after use such as rolls of tape must be discarded after a single use.

Avery Dennison BeneHold Medical Tape Strips minimize the risk of skin softening or maceration during use. The strips can be used to secure dressings, devices and light- to medium-weight tubing. Taping method for dialysis treatment shown. (Photo courtesy of Avery Dennison Medical Solutions)

The tape strips, however, allow dialysis clinicians to bring into patient areas only the amount of tape needed per procedure, ensuring compliance with regulations and helping to reduce waste. The tape strips are supplied on perforated sheets containing 22 tape strips apiece. The sheets can be divided in half or into quarters as needed. The strips come in precut lengths of six inches but can be cut to fit application requirements. The tape strips have an adhesive-free tab at both ends that allow easy handling even with gloved hands.

Enhancing Patient Comfort
Another new securement advancement is a bandage-shaped fixation device for handling a wide range of medical tubes, lines, and drains. These applications generally employ standard medical or surgical tape, but the acrylic adhesive used in standard medical tapes can cause skin irritation in some patients, especially those who exhibit acute sensitivity.

In contrast, the new tube fixation device utilizes an absorbent, hydrocolloid adhesive that is gentle to the skin and can be removed with little damage or irritation. Applications can include IV catheter lines, epidural lines, Foley catheter tubes, chest tubes, urinary drainage tubes, and surgical drain lines.

Lines and drains attached by conventional tape can make contact with and abrade the skin. The new tube fixation technology enhances patient comfort with a special hook-and-loop-closure system. The system prevents lines or tubes from contacting the patient’s skin, reducing the risk of rubbing and abrasion. The unique design allows repositioning of tubing lines and drains without removal and reapplication of the device. The individually packaged device is gamma-sterilized and suitable for surgical applications.

Site Protection
A third advancement in securement technology is a new transparent film dressing that promotes a moist environment conducive to wound healing. The dressing provides site protection for minor wounds, catheter sites, small incisions and grafts, and first- and second-degree burns.

The multicomponent dressing consists of a thin, transparent polyurethane film; a non-latex acrylic adhesive; and a paper frame. The polyurethane film acts as a waterproof barrier to external contaminants while allowing sufficient moisture vapor exchange. It helps maintain skin integrity by managing fluid buildup beneath the dressing.

The dressing’s adhesive is strong enough to secure catheters and other devices but is not overly aggressive and can be removed without damaging the skin.

The dressing is designed for easy, intuitive application. Its paper frame facilitates accurate positioning over wound or catheter sites. Clinicians can apply the dressing with one hand or while holding another component. The frame also provides rigidity to the dressing and prevents it from folding over during application.

Emily Berlin is global market segment manager for Avery Dennison Medical Solutions. She can be reached at 773-294-3816 or

*Regulatory clearance of the BeneHold Tube Fixation Device and Transparent Film Dressing is pending. Anticipated commercially availability is Q1 and Q3 2012, respectively.