Suture and needle characteristics in orthopaedic surgery

Elizabeth Pacer, Daniel W. Griffin, Ashley B. Anderson, Scott M. Tintle*, Benjamin K. Potter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


There remains a dearth of research on and general knowledge with regard to materials used for wound closure and soft-tissue repair and approximation. Critical suture properties include physical configuration, fluid absorption and capillarity, caliber or diameter, tensile strength, torsion, absorbability, elasticity, plasticity, memory, coefficient of friction, and knot security. The optimal ranges of each of these characteristics remain undefined for most sutures and indications. Needle types and basic design characteristics affect suture passage and require further consideration with regard to specific suture-needle selection. Suture must perform its intended purpose with a minimum of undesirable reaction and infectious potential, adequate duration of efficacy, and adequate strength. However, stronger, or high tensile strength, suture is not always better because of the requisite increase in suture caliber as well as the potential for inadvertent tissue strangulation, possibly increasing inflammatory reactivity. Sometimes, we seek stable, watertight fascial closure; occasionally, strong and durable tendon repair; and other times, gentle, cosmetically friendly, skin eversion and opposition. A variety of common suture types differ in these critical characteristics and may be optimally utilized for contrasting, but sometimes overlapping, indications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJBJS Reviews
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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