How many of us have practiced suture removal in occupational
or physical therapy school?? NOT I!!
Often, hand surgeons will ask the therapist to remove sutures and sometimes the order will even say “remove sutures when ready”
SO NOW WHAT? How to remove continuous sutures? First, we can cover the basics of sutures!
There are two basic classifications for suture material, absorbable
and non-absorbable. Absorbable sutures
typically do not require manual removal, because the enzymes that live in the
body’s tissue will digest them. Non-absorbable
require a healthcare practitioner to remove them however sometimes they can be
left in permanently for example sutures placed in tendons are typically never
You may encounter patients with different types of sutures,
or a different technique was utilized to place them.
The most common types of suture techniques you will see in
the hand therapy setting is the interrupted suture techniques followed by the
After a stitch is made the material is cut and tied together. After this another stitch is placed and again cut and tied together, this step is typically repeated until the wound is closed. This technique usually takes a little longer than the continuous suture removal technique.
A series of stitches that use one single strand. This allows the tension to be distributed evenly. These are typically very easy to remove and can be placed quickly.
Buried Sutures: This
is when the knot of the suture is found within the tissue. This suture is typically not removed.
These are placed in the layers of the skin and deeper tissues. These are either continuous or
interrupted. Typically, these are used
to close fascial layers.
Now for the Million
Dollar Question? When should the
sutures be removed?
This often will vary form patient to patient and may be
dependent on how well the wound is healing.
If the patient is diabetic and demonstrating poor wound healing or poor
wound closure you may be inclined to leave the sutures in place a little longer
compared the young kid whose incision is healing very well.
Guidelines for Suture Removal
Arms 7-10 days
Dorsal aspect of the Hand 10-14 days
Palms of Hand 14-21 days
When removing the sutures make sure you use a sterile suture removal kit. Pick up one end the suture and cut it, trying to stay as close to the skin as possible. After it is cut slowly pull the suture strand.
More To Read
Tsehaie, J., Sprekraijse, K., Wouters, R., Slijper, H., Feitz, R., Hovious, S., & Selles, R. (2018). Outcome of a Hand Orthosis and Hand Therapy for Carpometacarpal Osteoarthritis in Daily Practice: A Prospective Cohort Study. American Society for Surgery of the Hand, 1-11. The skinny: Non-surgical approaches (hand therapy & orthotics) are typically the go-to for…Read More
Flowers, K. (2002). A proposed decision hierarchy for splinting the stiff joint, with an emphasis on force application parameters. Journal of Hand Therapy, 15, 158–162. The Skinny- The article proposes a decision hierarchy to determine when you should apply a static progressive or dynamic orthosis. The decision hierarchy uses a modified Weeks test (MWT). The…Read More
Anderson, H. & Hoy, G. (2016). Orthotic intervention incorporating the dart-thrower’s motion as part of conservative management guidelines for treatment of scapholunate injury. Journal of Hand Therapy, 29, 199-204. By Brittany Carrie The Skinny Ligaments that overlay the carpal bones are imperative for wrist motion; however, are highly susceptible to instability. Injury to the scapholunate…Read More
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