Surgical gloves are personal protection equipment (PPE) designed to protect clinicians in operating room (OR) environments. The primary purpose of surgical gloves is to act as a protective barrier for surgeons and nurses to prevent possible transmission of diseases or pathogens during procedures while working with surgical instruments. Similar to medical examination glove, surgical glove standards are governed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the United States. However, the FDA requires manufacturers to meet a higher level of quality standards for surgical gloves.

Surgical Glove Properties


Today, the vast majority of surgical gloves are still made from latex, natural rubber. During the early 1990s, latex allergy awareness has paved way for additional material to be introduced in the manufacturing of medical gloves. As surgeons sought out synthetic alternatives, neoprene surgical gloves were introduced. Manufacturers quickly standardized their offering to include a synthetic surgical glove made out of neoprene. Although neoprene surgical gloves are latex-free, veteren surgeons still preferred the traditional latex gloves since latex provides a higher level of elasticity and comfort. To solve this issue, polyisoprene was introduced. Polyisoprene surgical gloves have very similar properties of latex without containing the harmful proteins responsible for latex sensitivity. Although polyisoprene is more expensive than latex or neoprene, market share for polyisoprene surgical gloves continue to increase.


All surgical gloves are sterilized and package sealed in pairs for individual use. The sterilization of surgical gloves is standard as surgical procedures often involve open wound operation.

Left/Right Hand Fitted

In contrast to medical exam gloves, surgical gloves are form fitted meaning every pair contains one glove shaped for the left hand and one glove shaped for the right hand. This is to ensure the highest level of comfort to help reduce fatigue from long surgical procedures.

Glove Size

In contrast to medical exam gloves, surgical glove sizes range from 5.5 to 9 in increments of 0.5. This numbering system provides a better fitting glove which will be available for every surgeon. To see the corresponding sizing of Small, Medium, and Large for exam gloves, view the available medical glove size chart.

FDA Requirements

FDA Requirement - Medical Gloves

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains the standards for all medical gloves within the United States of America. All medical gloves labeled as surgical gloves must adhere to strict guidelines the FDA set which require surgical glove manufacturers to make surgical gloves at a set quality level. These guidelines are provided in the form of ASTM standards.