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What Is a Wire Suture?

Equipment used to place and remove wire sutures.
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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 April 2014
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A wire suture is similar in functionality to other sutures, or medical stitching, but the suture is made from metal such as medical-grade silver or stainless steel. Unlike other sutures, which commonly are used on skin or organs, a wire suture's increased strength and resilience more commonly lead it to be used on bone or teeth. This suture is made from metal, which does not absorb easily, so it commonly will not dissolve and usually is taken out of the patient rather than allowed to go away on its own. Its increased size and strength mean special scissors typically are needed to remove the wire.

The majority of sutures are made from materials such as catgut or synthetic materials, but not a wire suture. This suture is made from medical-grade metal, usually silver or stainless steel, though aluminum also can be used. These metals are used because they typically do not corrode in the human body, so the danger of harmful toxins leeching into the body is vastly decreased compared to other metals.

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Wire suture is made from a sturdier material than most other sutures, so it also can be used for heavy-duty applications. The two most common places to use this suture are in bones and in teeth, because the movement of both can easily cause other sutures to break or fray. The suture normally is unable to be absorbed, so it should not dissolve while the healing is progressing; if the suturing did absorb, then this may cause bone fragments to separate or teeth to fall out of the gums.

Many sutures are made to dissolve, which is easier for patients and doctors alike, but there are many sutures that do not absorb. Those that cannot, such as a wire suture, either are made to be permanent suturing — which is used with some organ surgeries — or they are sturdier than other materials. This suture must be cut and removed before it will leave the body. This normally is a painless process but, at most, should be just a bit uncomfortable.

Regular medical scissors can cut most suture materials, but not a wire suture. Stronger scissors typically are needed to properly cut this. If other scissors are used, then they may eventually cut through the stitching, but the doctor may have to try several times before succeeding. Wire suture scissors also can be used for weaker suturing materials, but this may unnecessarily wear out the scissors’ blades.

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