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What Is a Suture Needle?

Equipment used to place and remove sutures, including a suture needle.
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  • Written By: Susan Elliott
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2014
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A suture needle is a needle used in medical procedures. It is similar to a sewing needle, although it is much stronger, sterile, and designed specifically to pierce through flesh. There are many types of suture needles, but most share some common characteristics. The type of needle that a doctor uses is determined by the procedure that the patient is having.

All suture needles are strong and extremely sharp. They are made from tempered surgical steel to ensure strength and durability, as well as to resist corrosion. Many suture needles are steel gray in color, but they can be black to help prevent glare during surgical procedures. The diameter of the needle varies in size depending on the area in which it will be used and the kind of tissue it will be repairing. This type of needle also has two distinct ends.

One end of the needle is drilled with an eye. This is the area that holds the suture thread during a procedure. The eye portion of the needle is required to be smooth and free of any ridges. Smoothness ensures that the surgical thread slides easily through the needle. A smooth eye also prevents tissue tearing and thread breakage during an operation.

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The largest area of a suture needle, or body, may be serrated, meaning that it has small, sharp projections. Serration allows the needle to easily slide through the tissue. It also allows the doctor to have a firmer, more powerful grip on the needle. Some suture needles are covered with a silicon substance for an even smoother entrance capability; however, this is a relatively new process.

The end opposite of the eye on a suture needle is extremely sharp, but its point style may vary. The type of surgery in which the needle will be used determines what kind of point it must have. Suture needle points may fall into three categories: penetrating needles, cutting needles and blunt needles.

The tapered suture needle is a penetrating needle that has an extremely sharp tapered point and easily cuts through tissue. The conventional suture needle has three sharp sides and is mostly used to repair torn tissue; it is also a penetrating needle. The reverse cutting suture needle and the tapered cutting suture needle are designed to penetrate deep wounds located in thick fleshy areas, while the blunt needle is used to remove and dissect tissue.

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