Introduction to Biotextiles

Biotextiles are structures composed of textile fibers designed for use in specific biological environments where their performance depends on biocompatibility and biostability with cells and biological fluids.  Biotextiles include implantable devices such as surgical sutures, hernia repair fabrics, vascular and endovascular prostheses, artificial skin, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) prostheses and parts of artificial hearts.

The term “Biotextiles” was first used 30 years ago by Dr. Martin W. King, a professor in North Carolina State University’s College of Textiles.

“Medical textiles” is a broader term which also includes bandages, wound dressings, face masks, hospital linens, and protective clothing worn in the operating room.  Antimicrobial medical textiles are textiles that fight against cutaneous bacterial proliferation. Zeolite and Triclosan are some of the more commonly used antimicrobial agents at the present time.  However, the use of silver nanoparticles and other chemical compounds that can disrupt the normal function of bacteria, viruses, and fungi are becoming increasingly popular in various niche markets.  This antimicrobial behavior also allows such medical textiles to inhibit the development of odors and limit the extent of bacterial proliferation in diabetic foot ulcers.