Surgical Staples Vs. Sutures

Written by neal litherland
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The main concern with any wound, whether it's accidental or an opening for a surgical procedure, is to get it closed as efficiently as possible so that the body may begin the healing process and avoid infection. The two closure mechanisms that are used for most wounds are surgical sutures and surgical staples.

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Sutures

Usually referred to as stitches, surgical sutures are the most common method for closing wounds. Using a needle and specially formulated thread, a doctor physically sews the lips of a wound together. Suture needles may be straight or curved, and the suture thread may last anywhere from days to years, depending on the variety of thread used. Sutures can be used for just about any wound and are used exclusively for wounds on the hands, feet, neck and face.

Staples

Surgical staples are made of stainless steel, with two legs that enter either side of the wound and a crossbar that lays parallel to the skin. When surgical staples are being used, the wound is first held closed with the aid of forceps. Then the stapler, which holds a clip of five to 25 surgical staples, is used to install the actual staples to close the wound. Staples are commonly used on wounds on the arms, legs, abdomen, back and scalp.

Suture Advantages And Disadvantages

Sutures come in a variety of types. The needles can be straight or have a variety of curves to make stitching different areas of the body easier. Additionally, the thread comes in different strengths. Some sutures may only last a week and are absorbed into the body and disposed of naturally, whereas other sutures won't be absorbed and must be removed by a doctor once the healing process is complete. However, sutures take time to put in, and while that may not be an issue much of the time, it can pose a difficulty in certain situations, particularly where large wounds or incisions are concerned.

Staple Advantages and Disadvantages

The primary advantage of surgical staples is their speed. Once a wound is ready to be closed, surgical staples can be put in much faster than sutures. Additionally, staples are a point-and-click method, since the stapler does all the work. This is particularly advantageous if there are no doctors with the skills to close wounds well or quickly. Staples do have to be removed however, and they need a special tool with which to do it.

Choice

The best method that a medical facility can use is to keep both sutures and staples on hand for the closure of wounds. Which method is best, staples or sutures, can only be decided based on the type of wound that has to be closed, and the particular health of each patient. All in all, it's a good idea to keep as many options open as possible.

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