Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sutures: Information and Types

Information About Sutures in the Operating Room:-

When asking for a suture generally three peices of information are included; suture size, suture type and suture needle.

a surgeon would say, "Give me a 4-0 Vicryl on a PS-2".

4-0 (pronounced 4-oh) refers to the size of the suture fiber. Vicryl is the type of suture. And finally a PS-2 is the type of needle the suture is attached to.

Suture Size


10-0 Typically used in the most delicate surgeries. Common in both Ophthalmic (eye)
9-0 surgery and for repairing small damaged nerves often due to lacerations in the
8-0 hand.

7-0 Used for repairing small vessels and arteries or for delicate facial plastic surgery.
6-0 Common for use in vascular graft sewing such a carotid endarterectomy.

5-0 Used for larger vessel repair such as an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm or
4-0 skin closure.

3-0 Skin closure when there is a lot of tension on the tissue, closure of muscle layers
2-0 or repair of bowel in general surgery.

0 For closing of the fascia layer in abdominal surgery, the joint capsule in knee and
1 hip surgery or deep layers in back surgery.

2 For repair of tendons or other high tension structures in large orthopedic surgeries.

Suture Type

There are many different types of suture, the two most important properties are...
Absorbable Vs Non-Absorbable
Braided Vs Non-Braided

Absorbable Suture

Absorbable suture breaks down over time in the body. Examples of absorbable suture include




The amount of time it takes a suture to break down in the body depends on a few factors such as suture type, size and the location it is placed. The list to follow includes the most common absorbable sutures in most operating rooms listed from shortest to longest break down time.

*Complete breakdown of strength times of various Ethicon Sutures:
Vicryl Rapide – 2 weeks
Undyed Monocryl – 3 weeks
Dyed Monocryl – 4 weeks
Coated Vicryl – 4 ½ weeks
PDS – 9 weeks
Panacryl – 70 weeks

Note – Suture absorption rates can increase in patients with fever, infection or protein deficiency. Also, the strength to a suture will decrease significantly prior to its complete breakdown time. Therefore a suture with higher tissue tension will have a greater chance of failure prior to the amount of time listed above

Non-Absorbable Suture

Nylon (Ethilon)






are all example of non absorbable suture. When used on the skin, these sutures will be removed however when used in the body they will be retained inside the tissue.

Common uses for non absorbable suture:
Interrupted skin suturing when sutures will be removed later, 4-0 Nylon
Securing drains to skin, 2-0 Silk
Repair stitches for blood vessels, 6-0 Prolene
Vessel graft stitches for AAA, Fem-Pop or Carotid Artery grafts 5-0, 6-0 prolene or gortex
Bowel repair stitch, 3-0 silk
Achilles Tendon Repair, #5 Ethibond or Fiberwire

Braided or Non-Braided Suture

Braided suture have a number of strands woven together like a string. Examples of braided suture are; Silk, Vicryl and Ethibond.

Non-Braided or Monofilament Sutures have a single strand such as Monocryl, PDS,and Ethilon Nylon.

Often times it will be surgeon preference when choosing a braided or non-braided suture. 4-0 vicryl and 4-0 monocryl are by far the most common sutures used from sewing the skin. Both are absorbable however vicryl is braided and monocryl is non-braided.

It is thought that non-braided sutures cause less reactivity in the body and are not as prone to becoming infected because they lack the grooves and rough surface for things to adhere. However non-braided sutures can have a greater tendency to loosen at the surgical knot with the lack of grip.

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