Stitches (Sutures, Wound Closures)

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideCuts and Scrapes: Caring for Wounds in Pictures

Cuts and Scrapes: Caring for Wounds in Pictures

Are there any special considerations regarding wound repair?

People with diabetes or those with peripheral vascular disease may have delayed healing and increased risk of infection.

Animal bites are especially prone to infection, and the decision to repair a bite with sutures must balance the risk of infection with the benefit of a better-looking scar. Approximately 50% of dog bites, 80% of cat bites, and 100% of human bites will become infected.

When the risk of infection is high, the health-care provider may choose from a different options to help the wound to heal. When the laceration is cleansed and dressed and not repaired, it will gradually heal on its own. This called healing by secondary intention. (Primary closure describes a wound that is sutured or stitched.)

Another alternative is delayed primary closure, in which a potential dirty or contaminated wound is cleaned and dressed and then evaluated in a few days (usually two or three). If it has not become infected, it might be possible to then suture it closed, as if it is a new injury.

REFERENCES:

Pfenninger, J.L., and G.C. Fowler. Procedures for Primary Care, 3rd edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2010.

Trott, A.T. Wounds and Lacerations: Emergency Care and Closure, 4th Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2012.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/10/2016

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