Modality of wound closure after total knee replacement: are staples as safe as sutures? A retrospective study of 181 patients.


Surgical site wound closure plays a vital role in post-operative success. This effect is magnified in regard to commonly performed elective procedures such as total knee arthroplasty.

The use of either sutures or staples for skin re-approximation remains a contested subject, which may have a significant impact on both patient safety and surgical outcome. The literature remains divided on this topic.

Methods: Two cohorts of patients at a level one trauma and regional referral center were reviewed.

Cohorts consisted of consecutive total knee arthroplasties performed by two surgeons who achieved surgical wound re-approximation by either staples or absorbable subcuticular sutures. Outcome variables included time of surgery, wound dehiscence, surgical site infection per Center for Disease Control criteria and repeat procedures for debridement and re-closure.

Results: 181 patients qualified for study inclusion.

Staples were employed in 82 cases (45.3% of total) and sutures in 99 cases (54.7%). The staples group had no complications while the sutures group had 9 (9.1%).

These consisted of: 4 infections (2superficial, one deep, one organ/space); three patients required re-suturing for dehiscence; one allergic type reaction to suture material; and one gout flare resulting in dehiscence. The mean surgical time with sutures was 122.3 minutes (sd = 33.4) and with staples was 114 minutes (sd = 24.4).

Conclusion: This study demonstrated significantly fewer complications with staple use than with suture use.

While all complications found in this study cannot be directly attributed to skin re-approximation method, the need for further prospective, randomized trials is established.

Author: Justin NewmanSteven MorganGustavo ResendeAllison WilliamsE HammerbergMichael Dayton
Credits/Source: Patient Safety in Surgery 2011, 5:26



Published on: 2011-10-19



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