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What Is a Suture Passer?

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  • Written By: Misty Wiser
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A suture passer is a hand held apparatus that is used to insert stitches into the edges of a gash or to close deep tissue wounds created during surgery. It may also be used to hold prosthetic devices in place throughout abdominal surgery. There are many different variations of the suture passer, and each is specifically designed for a particular operation. The medical device is often reusable after re-sterilization.

There are many benefits of using a suture passer during surgical procedures. The tool enables the surgeon to access the surgical site through a smaller incision and the surgeon may need less room to maneuver within the surgical site, reducing harm to the surrounding tissues and organs. Smaller incisions may also result in faster wound healing times.

The simplest suture passer is shaped like a large sewing needle made of stainless steel. Pliable surgical sutures can be used with this type of passer. It is used most often for basic wound stitching or procedures involving the femoral neck hole during hip fracture stabilization.

A flexible lateral suture passer is used for arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery. This variation allows for a simplified loading of the suture and needle. The tiny size enables the surgeon to operate through a smaller incision, possibly shortening healing time.

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Another type of suture passer is shaped like a simple piece of wire with an open loop in the middle. A braided suture is threaded through the loop before being used to place the stitches. This tool may be used for various arthroscopic soft tissue repairs, including shoulder repair.

An additional suture passer looks similar to a very large metal hypodermic needle. It has two loops on each side for the surgeon to grasp the tool with. The top is also shaped like a loop. As the loop is compressed, it aids in the placement of each suture. This device is often used in laparoscopic procedures, such as abdominal laproscopy, ventral hernia repair, and pelviscopy.

The final variation of the suture passer, and one of the most complex, has a formed plastic handle that holds a disposable needle and suture capture trap. The end of the passer has two clamp-like ends for instant suture retrieval. Although the handle is reusable, the nitinol needle and suture trap are packaged for a single use. This device is used most often in orthopedic surgeries.

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