Suture is a material resembling thread that is used to close surgical incisions as well as traumatic lacerations. Although previously made of natural materials such as catgut (sheep's intestines) and silk, modern suture is made out of synthetic materials.
Suture comes in two general types:
- Permanent, designed for permanent repair where the body is unlikely to repair the damage on its own (such as heart surgery)
- Dissolving, where holding the wound together for a short time will allow the body to make the bond permanent in a short period of time (such as small abdominal incisions typical of a laproscopy)
Suture must meet several specifications in order to be come into use. Naturally, it must be very strong. However, it must still be flexible enough to tie into knots. In addition, it cannot cause an allergic reaction in patients. It must also not be made out of multiple filaments (like thread is) that could cause wicking of moisture or blood. Different types of plastics such as nylon and polypropylene are common permanent suture material. However, when extra strength is required (such as for heart surgery), stainless steel can be used as a suture material.
Suture comes in about a dozen different diameters, ranging from 1/100th of a millimeter to 8/10ths of a millimeter.