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The Different Types of Sutures Available

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Did you know that enrollment in medical school increased by 1.7% during 2020? Increased interest in medical professions likely stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic and a national shortage of healthcare workers. 

If you have completed medical school, are currently enrolled, or starting a residency, you need to hone your suturing skills. There are various types of sutures that you will use for superficial wounds, abdominal surgeries, and more. Rather than waiting to learn on the spot, start today by studying different types of suture materials, patterns, needles, and knots. 

Luckily, we have the guide for you. In this article, you will learn more about the most popular types of sutures and how you can start practicing today, so keep reading on for more information!

What Are Sutures?

Sutures are materials used to close wounds and lacerations, preventing infections and improving wound healing. While many sutures are used for surface-level injuries to close the skin, other sutures are absorbable and ideal for internal closures. These require specialized materials and types of suturing. 

Unlike surgical staples, sutures use synthetic threads that must be applied and removed by medical professionals. If you suture using absorbable materials, the patient will not need to return to have them removed. 

Types of Sutures

Medical advances have created several types of suture patterns and materials that make it easier than ever before to master your suturing skills. There are two main types of sutures: non-absorbable and absorbable. Some of the common non-absorbable suture materials are: 

  • Nylon
  • Polypropylene
  • Silk 
  • Polyester

Absorbable sutures are needed for many abdominal and gut surgeries or facial lacerations. These materials include natural and synthetic monofilaments and braided structures. Some common absorbable suture materials are:

  • Polydioxanone
  • Poliglecarpone
  • Polyglactin

Although absorbable sutures are not as common, they are becoming more commonplace as they may result in fewer suture complications. One study looked at pediatric cataract surgeries and found that polyglactin sutures were safer and more effective than nylon materials. 

Most Common Types of Suture

What are the most common sutures for surgery? Most surgeons prefer suturing versus glue or staples. For most superficial wound closures, non-absorbable sutures are the primary choice. 

Absorbable sutures could lead to more inflammation or scarring. Monofilament and multifilament suturing are relatively equal in uses, but there are a few distinct differences:

  • Monofilament has less surface area
  • Monofilament requires higher handling care (e.g., more knots)
  • Monofilament fracture less
  • Monofilament has fewer inflammatory reactions
  • Multifilaments are easier to suture and more secure
  • Multifilament has higher risks for inflammation and infection
  • Multifilaments are more expensive

The most commonly used sutures for fascia are polypropylene or polydioxanone. Skin surface sutures typically use nylon and polydioxanone for difficult-to-remove areas. 

What Types of Suture Needles Do You Need?

When in doubt, use a smaller needle for smaller regions or areas you want to reduce scarring, such as the face. Larger needles will close larger tissue areas. There are three key parts to a needle:

  • Eye
  • Body
  • Point

Curved needles are more common and are usually 3/8 of a circle in size. Most suture needles range from 5.5 mm to 3 mm. 

Popular Suturing Techniques

Suturing techniques depend on a few factors, such as personal preference, region, and suture materials. There are six main types of suturing techniques, including:

  • Simple interrupted suture
  • Running suture
  • Running locked suture
  • Vertical mattress suture
  • Horizontal mattress suture
  • Running subcuticular suture

A simple interrupted suture is the most common technique and the first one you should start with. You place the suture perpendicular to the epidermis and follow the length of the opening, tying a knot at the end. 

Suture Knots 101

Now that you know more about suture needles, techniques, and materials, it is time to dive into the types of suture knots. Monofilament threads will need more knots, and it is good to practice more rather than less in case you encounter instances where you must use monofilament. 

Knots are usually the site of failure for sutures, so it is essential that you practice your knots consistently. The four most common knots are:

  • Square knot
  • Surgeon's knot
  • Granny knot
  • Sliding half-hitch

Granny knots aren't technically "suture knots" but rather are technical errors. You can avoid granny knots by always squaring them and ensuring they are parallel to each other. Here are some other tips to ensure your suture knots are meant to last:

  • Alternate counterclockwise and clockwise tying
  • Don't tie knots too tightly
  • Only tie knots until the flaps of skin close
  • Place a break between each knot

Take your time and lots of practice to master these knots since one error could ruin your excellent suturing techniques. 

How To Practice Types of Suture Patterns

The best way to practice different suture patterns is by using suture kits with various materials. You will want vast experience with absorbable and non-absorbable sutures, so when you are placed in a position to suture, you are familiar with everything presented on the suture table. 

Suture practice kits are an excellent choice that mimics real-life situations and provides plenty of opportunities to hone your skills. 

Mastering Suture Materials

Have you wondered about the different types of sutures available? From commonly used ones like nylon to absorbable and innovative materials like polyglactin, there are several sutures you should familiarize yourself with. 

At Medical Creations, we specialize in IV kits, suture kits, training, and more. From our website, you can choose from various suture kits that will help you get started with mastering your skills. 

One of our most popular suture kits includes nylon and silk threads with a suture silicone pad and various surgical tools. Check out this suture practice kit on our site today!

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