Suture needle types and specifications

It doesn’t matter whether you’re performing surgery on human patients or research on rodent subjects, you need to have the right tools for the job. While sutures and suture needles are often overlooked they can have a profound impact on the outcome of a surgery. The wrong suture needle could result in trauma that could have easily been avoided, and of course sutures themselves are foreign material, the wrong selection could prevent the wound from healing effectively or even at all. It is important that when selecting the needles you need you take into account all of the variables involved in order to give the best possible results.

Take into account the characteristics of each individual needle you have to choose from, anatomic location of the procedure, the purpose of the procedure, and of course the preferences and experience of the surgeon involved.

There are some rules that should be the same no matter what type of needle you’re looking for; an ideal surgical needle should be manufactured with high quality stainless steel, designed to be as slim as possible while maintaining strength, stable in the hand, capable of carrying the suture with minimal trauma and with a long and sharp enough taper to penetrate with minimal resistance, while still strong enough right down to the tip to avoid bending, breaking and corrosion. I’m sure you don’t need to be told that all of the needles supplied by Barber Needles meet these basic criteria.

Now – there are two main types of suture needle that you can choose from, the ‘eyed’ and the ‘eyeless’, which is also sometimes known as the ‘swaged’.

Eyeless needles are usually single use needles, giving that they are sold with the suture attached, and once the length of suture has been used another can’t be attached. These are hygienic options that save on sterilisation of course, it also reduces the risk that the needle will become blunt over time, as can happen with reusable needles.

Eyed needles however, are often re-usable and although they do need to be re-threaded between uses which can prove time consuming the re-usability of the needles makes them a more cost effective solution. Naturally however they do still have to be replaced periodically in order to protect against the continued wear of the needles reducing their sharpness. They do of course also have to be thoroughly washed and sterilized between uses with specialised equipment.

Needle curvature is one of the biggest variations in the needle types and provides you with options of straight needles, which are designed to be used by hand without the aid of any instruments when the issue is easily accessible. These are most commonly used with skin closure and microsurgical procedure like repairing nerves and vessels. Then there is the half-curved, sometimes called the ski, this is used to suture using the laparoscopic technique and is easily identifiable by the shape of the needle’s curve. The ¼ circle is a shallow curve needle which is commonly used for procedures where the convex surfaces are easily accessible, mainly in ophthalmic or microsurgical procedures.

The 3/8 circle is slightly deeper, but still considered a shallow curve needle with the additional curvature making it easy to manipulate large or superficial wounds. However because this requires a large arc of manipulation it is impossible to use in deep wounds. As such the needle is generally used to suture large but close to the surface wounds. The ½ circle however is much deeper and given a much better use in deep wounds and confined spaces. However this does require more pronation and supination of wrists; which can make it a slightly more difficult option for older and less capable surgeons, or for surgeries that take longer and can result in discomfort after prolonged use. Finally the 5/8 circle is the deepest option and words fantastically well for deep wounds and confined spaces, not to mention it can be used with little to no lateral movement when rotating the wrist.

There are a number of different types of suture needles that offer these sizes and specifications, many of which throw their own flair of design onto the needle to make it that little bit more functional for a specific purpose, for example there are scalp needles (available from us) which seem like the typical half circle, however their curve is ever so slightly different and their design flatter, to give you more precision when creating sutures in the scalp. There are also a selection of needles with slightly different tapers to give you a slightly different feel or precision when penetrating the skin, and blunt point options for use with and around organs to prevent unnecessary damage where possible.

Finding the right suture needle for the job takes time, experience and a high quality range of products to choose from.

Monday, February 29th, 2016 by Charlie Stelling About Us No Comments

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