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Introduction

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Video 5-19. Running vertical mattress suture
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Application

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This is a running everting technique used for closure and epidermal approximation. Like any running technique, it may be used alone for wounds under minimal tension, such as wounds on the genitalia or traumatic lacerations. As with its interrupted counterpart, it is most frequently used as a secondary layer to aid in everting the wound edges when the dermis has been closed using a deep suturing technique.

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Suture Material Choice

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With all techniques, it is best to use the thinnest suture possible in order to minimize the risk of track marks and foreign-body reactions. Suture choice will depend largely on anatomic location and the goal of suture placement.

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On the face, a 6-0 or 7-0 monofilament suture may be used, though fast-absorbing gut may be used on the eyelids and ears to obviate the need for suture removal. When the goal of the running vertical mattress suture placement is solely to encourage wound-edge eversion, fine-gauge suture material may be used on the extremities as well. Otherwise, 5-0 monofilament suture material is used if there is minimal tension, and 4-0 monofilament suture is useful in areas under moderate tension where the goal of suture placement is relieving tension as well as epidermal approximation. Occasionally, 3-0 monofilament suture may be utilized as well.

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Technique

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  1. The needle is inserted perpendicular to the epidermis, approximately 6 mm distant to the wound edge.

  2. With a fluid motion of the wrist, the needle is rotated through the dermis, taking the bite wider at the deep margin than at the surface, and the needle tip exits the skin on the contralateral side. If the needle radius is too small to complete this arc in one movement, this first step may be divided into two, with the needle first exiting between the incised wound edges and then reloaded and reinserted to exit on the contralateral side.

  3. The needle body is grasped with surgical forceps in the left hand, with care being taken to avoid grasping the needle tip, which can be easily dulled by repetitive friction against the surgical forceps. It is gently grasped and pulled upward with the surgical forceps as the body of the needle is released from the needle driver. Alternatively, the needle may be released from the needle driver and the needle driver itself may be used to grasp the needle from the contralateral side of the wound to complete its rotation through its arc, obviating the need for surgical forceps.

  4. The needle is then reloaded in a backhand fashion and inserted at 90 degrees perpendicular to the epidermis approximately 3 mm from the wound edge on the same side of the incision line as the exit point.

  5. The needle is rotated superficially through its arc, ...

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