What are dissolvable sutures?

Dissolvable sutures are made of materials which are broken down in tissue after a given period of time, which depending on the material can be from ten days to eight weeks. They are used therefore in many of the internal tissues of the body. In most cases, three weeks is sufficient for the wound to close firmly. The suture is not needed any more, and the fact that it disappears is an advantage, as there is no foreign material left inside the body and no need for the patient to have the sutures removed. Most resorbable sutures dissolve in the body by a process called hydrolysis.

Dissolvable sutures were originally made of the intestines of sheep, the so called catgut. The manufacturing process was similar to that of natural musical strings for violins and guitar, and also of natural strings for tennis racquets. Today, gut sutures are made of specially prepared beef and sheep intestine, and may be untreated (plain gut), tanned with chromium salts to increase their persistence in the body (chromic gut), or heat-treated to give more rapid absorption (fast gut). However, the majority of absorbable sutures are now made of synthetic polymer fibres, which may be braided or monofilament; these offer numerous advantages over gut sutures, notably ease of handling, low cost, low tissue reaction, consistent performance and guaranteed non-toxicity. In Europe and Japan, gut sutures have been banned due to concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad-cow disease), although the herds from which gut is harvested are certified BSE-free. Each major suture manufacturer has its own proprietary formulations for its brands of synthetic absorbable sutures; various blends of polyglycolic acid, polylactic acid or caprolactone are common.

Following is the list of Dissolvable Sutures:

Natural Dissolvable Sutures

1. Catgut Plain sutures

2. Catgut Chromic sutures

Synthetic Dissolvable Sutures

3. Polyglycolic Acid Sutures (PGA sutures)- coated and braided suture

4. Polyglactin 910 Sutures (PGLA sutures)- coated and braided suture

5. Poliglecaprone Sutures (PGCL sutures)- monofilament suture

6. Polydioxanone Sutures (PDS Sutures)- monofilament suture