When a person suffers from an injury or undergoes any surgery, he/she is given stitches that help in holding the body tissues together. The surgical suture involves use of a needle and thread. The body part is sutured back together just like you would stitch clothes. However, the type, size, shape as well as material used for the thread is very different. There are two types of threads used by medical professionals today. These include the non-absorbable and dissolvable (absorbable) stitches. We shall concentrate more on the most commonly used i.e., dissolvable sutures in this article.
Dissolvable and Non-absorbable Stitches
Non-absorbable suture threads are made of materials that are not absorbed by the body naturally. They have to be removed from the body a few weeks after the wound closes and heals. In case of dissolvable ones, they are absorbed by the body over time. They need not to be removed and are mostly used in case of internal wounds where it is not possible to remove them.
Materials Used in the Making of Dissolvable Stitches
Dissolvable or absorbable sutures are those that lose their strength and get absorbed within 60 days. They get dissolved due to proteolytic enzymes in the body tissues or due to a hyrolysis reaction occurring within the body. There are different types of materials used in making them.
It is made by twisting together the strands of purified collagen that have been taken from bovine intestines. It is absorbed by the body within about 90 days. It is used for suturing ophthalmic, orthopedic, gastrointestinal as well as obstetrics/gynecological injuries. However, it is banned in Japan and European countries due to the fear that it may pass on the bovine spongiform encephalopathy infection (mad cow disease) to the patient. Thus, it is today being replaced by synthetic absorbable polymers.
Polylactic acid (PLA) is thermoplastic aliphatic polyester material used to make dissolvable stitches. About 50% of its strength is reduced within 3 weeks and takes about 3 months to be dissolved completely.
Polyglycolic acid (PGA) is also a thermoplastic polymer, made from glycolic acid. It is widely used to make these threads around the world. About 40% of its strength is dissolved in a week and takes about 3 to 4 months to be totally dissolved in the body.
Polydioxanone (PDO) is a biodegradable synthetic polymer that has many biomedical applications. This material is used in many orthopedic, plastic and cardiovascular surgeries.
Dissoluble ones take about 10 days to 3 months to be totally absorbed within the body. They are very helpful in case the patient is not able to return to a medical setup for the removal. It is also used for internal injuries where it is not possible to operate the patient again, just to remove the sutures. They are thus, used for deep wounds on the skin surface, like during a heart surgery or some transplantation surgery. In some cases, it may also be used to repair perineum tears in women after childbirth. They have high tensile strength that holds the tissues or skin together until it heals. However, they disintegrate with time and will leave no foreign matter remaining in the body.
Some patients suffer from inflammation, as their body may reject these stitches instead of absorbing it. If you have any doubts regarding the same, speak to your healthcare provider for further details.