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Introduction

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Video 5-03. Simple running suture
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Application

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This is the standard running suture used for epidermal approximation. It may be used alone in the context of small wounds under minimal to no tension, such as those formed by a traumatic laceration. It is generally used as a secondary layer to aid in the approximation of the epidermis when the dermis has been closed using a dermal or other 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. Simple running sutures may be placed with the goal of (1) accomplishing epidermal approximation in a wound under mild to moderate tension, such as a laceration, or, more frequently, (2) fine-tuning the epidermal approximation of a wound where the tension has already been shifted deep utilizing a deeper dermal or fascial suturing technique.

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On the face and eyelids a 6-0 or 7-0 monofilament suture is useful for epidermal approximation. When the goal of the simple running suture layer is solely epidermal approximation, 6-0 monofilament may be used on the extremities as well. Otherwise, 5-0 monofilament suture material may be used if there is minimal tension, and 4-0 monofilament suture may be utilized in areas under moderate tension where the goal of suture placement is relieving tension as well as epidermal approximation.

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Technique

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  1. The needle is inserted perpendicular to the epidermis, approximately one-half the radius of the needle distant to the wound edge. This will allow the needle to exit the wound on the contralateral side at an equal distance from the wound edge by simply following the curvature of the needle.

  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.

  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 suture material is then tied off gently, with care being taken to minimize tension across the epidermis and avoid overly constricting the wound edges. This forms the first anchoring knot ...

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