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Introduction

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Video 5-05. Horizontal mattress suture
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Application

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This is a frequently used everting technique employed for closure and epidermal approximation. As with many interrupted techniques, it may be used alone for wounds under minimal tension, such as those formed by either a small punch biopsy or a traumatic laceration. It is also frequently used as a secondary layer to aid in everting the wound edges when the dermis has been closed using a deep suturing technique. This technique may also be used in the context of atrophic skin, as the broader anchoring bites may help limit tissue tear-through that may be seen with a simple interrupted suture.

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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. Horizontal mattress sutures may be placed with the goal of: (1) effecting eversion, or (2) adding an additional layer of closure for wound stability and dead-space minimization.

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On the face and eyelids, 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 horizontal 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 useful if there is minimal tension, and 4-0 monofilament suture may be used in areas under moderate tension where the goal of suture placement is relieving tension as well as epidermal approximation. In select high-tension areas, 3-0 monofilament suture may be utilized as well, sometimes in the context of a multimodality approach, for example when mattress sutures are placed in the center of the wound to maximize tension relief and eversion and to obviate any dead space beneath a large wound.

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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 and pulled upward 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 ...

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