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Sutures: An Overview

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Sutures and stitches are a versatile application used to close up wounds on your skin or other tissue throughout your body. When most people think of sutures, they think of stitches to close up a cut. But sutures are much more than that. In fact, they are fundamental operating room instruments necessary for closing incisions following a procedure. Because sutures are used for a wide variety of applications, it is only appropriate that there also be different types of sutures.

Types of Sutures

There are two different ways to classify suture material—absorbable or nonabsorbable.

A physician isn’t required to remove absorbable sutures. This is because the enzymes that are found within your body will naturally digest them over time. Whereas, nonabsorbable sutures require removal from your doctor or physician at a later date.

Aside from being classified as absorbable or nonabsorbable, suture material is also classified according to the suture material itself. Monofilament sutures are a single thread, allowing the suture to easily pass through tissues. Braided sutures consist of several threads braided together. These types of sutures provide better security, but also come with an increased risk of infection.

Finally, sutures are also classified as using either natural or synthetic material. Because all suture material is sterilized prior to use, this classification isn’t particularly useful.

Types of Absorbable Sutures

  • Gut: A natural, monofilament suture is typically used to repair or close up internal soft tissues from wounds or lacerations. These types of sutures shouldn’t be used for cardiovascular or neurological procedures. Because the body has the strongest reaction to this type of suture, it will often scar. Gut sutures are not commonly used outside of gynecological surgeries.
  • Polydioxanone (PDS): This type of suture is a synthetic monofilament that is commonly used for soft tissue wound repairs. Most common procedures that use PDS sutures include abdominal closures and pediatric cardiac procedures.
  • Poliglecaprone (MONOCRYL): This is another type of synthetic monofilament suture most commonly used in general soft tissue repairs. These types of sutures should not be used for cardiovascular or neurological procedures.
  • Polyglactin (Vicryl): This braided suture is great for closing hand or facial lacerations. It also should not be used for cardiovascular or neurological procedures.

Types of Nonabsorbable Sutures

Nonabsorbable sutures are generally used for soft tissue repairs, including cardiovascular and neurological procedures.

  • Nylon: A natural monofilament suture.
  • Polypropylene (Prolene): A synthetic monofilament suture.
  • Silk: A braided natural suture
  • Polyester (Ethibond): A braided synthetic suture

As you can see, there are several types of sutures to ensure your wounds are closed up appropriately. By using the correct operating room instruments and sutures to fit your patients’ needs, you can speed along the recover process, ensure their safety, and minimize liability.