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Modified winch stitch

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Video 5-28. Dynamic winch stitch
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Like the standard winch stitch, this is a niche intraoperative tissue expansion approach. When closing wounds under marked tension, buried or transepidermal pulley sutures may be insufficient to permit closure. Placing a temporary winch stitch, in order to take advantage of mechanical tissue creep, aids in closing these select defects. The suture is removed intraoperatively, after other tension-relieving sutures have been placed.

Suture Material Choice

Since this is a temporary suture, choice of suture material is guided more by resilience and resistance to breakage than by any concern regarding permanent track marks. Therefore, a 2-0 or 3-0 monofilament nonabsorbable suture is generally appropriate in most areas where this technique would be used, such as the trunk and scalp.


  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, 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.

  4. The loose tail of suture material is secured in place with the aid of a hemostat.

  5. Starting proximal to the prior throw relative to the surgeon, steps (1) through (3) are then repeated sequentially until the desired number of throws is placed.

  6. The leading edge of suture is then pulled taut and secured in place with a hemostat.

  7. After allowing time for tissue creep to occur, one hemostat is gently pulled, increasing tension across the sutures and bringing the wound edges closer together. At maximal pull, an additional hemostat is then placed at the junction of the skin and the suture material, securing the suture material in position. The hemostat that was pulled is then removed. This step is repeated until the desired degree of tension relief has been accomplished.

  8. Once permanent sutures are placed, the hemostats are removed and the suture material is pulled out (Figures 5-28A, 5-28B, 5-28C, 5-28D, 5-28E, 5-28F, 5-28G, 5-28H).

Figure 5-28A.

Overview of the dynamic winch technique.

Figure 5-28B.

The needle is inserted perpendicular to the skin and exits on the contralateral side.

Figure 5-28C.

This ...

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