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Suturing Skills 

This station is testing your suturing skills and knowledge of different techniques.


This page will discuss important knowledge around needle, suture and suture technique choice, however we recommend attendance on a Basic Surgical Skills course and regular suturing practice to obtain proficiency.

  • Suture material
  • Needle holder
  • Scissors
  • Toothed forceps
  • Scissors
  • Sharps bin


  • Interrupted - Most simple suture to use and suitable for almost all situations


  • Mattress: Used to evert the wound edges

    • Vertical:

      • Advantages – greater closure strength – better for poorly supported or mobile tissue, better distribution of tension

      • Disadvantages – scar formation, necrosis at edge

    • Horizontal:

      • Advantages – distributes tension across a wound better than interrupted

      • Disadvantages – increased risk of tissue hypoxia compared to other suture types

  • Subcuticular – aim to oppose edges

    • Advantages – continuous suture, spreads wound tension, no visible external sutures

    • Disadvantages - require little wound tension so need deep dermal sutures

  • Deep dermal  - support wound and eliminate dead space in wound

  • Drain stitch - there are many ways to do this, the video below shows a way which is easy to practice at home.

Handy Tips
  • Wash hands, bare below elbow

  • Use the assistant if required

  • Make sure you use good basic surgical skills e.g. use tooth forceps to mount the needle, good spacing of sutures, sharps safety

  • Wear gloves unless states not too

  • Clear all sharps immediately



  • Round body

    • these separate tissues rather than cut resulting in a leak proof suture as tissues close tight around

    • Example of ENT uses - suturing tonsillar fauces together

  • Cutting needle

    • D cross-section with apex curve on inside. Needle cutting front section only

    • Example of ENT use - skin closure

  • Reverse Cutting

    •  D cross-section with apex curve outside needle curvature.  This results in less risk cutting out of tissue. There is also increase needle strength and increase resistance to bending

    • Example of ENT use mucosal closure, pinnaplasty


Size and uses of different Sutures

  • 7/0 or smaller – microsurgery, ophthalmology

  • 6/0 – Face, blood vessles

  • 5/0 – Face, neck, blood vessels

  • 4/0 – Mucosa, neck, blood vessels, hands, limbs, tendons

  • 3/0 – Limbs, trunk, gut, blood vessels

  • 2/0 – Trunk, fascia, viscera, blood vessels

  • 0 or larger – abdominal wall closure, drain sites, arterial lines


Types of suture

An ideal suture would be easy to secure/tie, give little tissue reaction and maintain tensile strength for the period required to hold the tissues together whilst it heals.


Non-Absorbable Sutures


Timing of removal of sutures

Face: 3-4 days, Scalp: 5 days, Trunk: 7 days, Arm or leg: 7-10 days, Foot 10-14 days

Absorbable Sutures

  • Braided


  • Monofilament

Further Resources
Patel KA & Thomas WEG. Sutures, ligatures and staples. Surgery (Oxford) 2008; 26: 48-53. 
Basic Surgical Skills handbook (all years).

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