What are Suture Kits?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

First aid kits contain a wide variety of medical components used to treat minor wounds. Some comprehensive first aid kits may contain surgical kits known as suture kits. Suture kits are used to quickly stitch wounds in an emergency.

A suture kit.
A suture kit.

Suture kits are composed of various instruments for stitching wounds. Scalpels are typically included in suture kits. These help remove debris from open wounds and make precise cuts around jagged flesh. Probes and forceps are also sometimes included for both of these purposes.

Suture kits typically include a scalpel.
Suture kits typically include a scalpel.

A good pair of scissors is an important surgical suture instrument. When wounds are jagged, skin will have to be cut in order to create straight lines to stitch together. Scissors are also necessary in cutting the suture threads themselves, depending on what type they might be.

First aid kits often contain a suture kit.
First aid kits often contain a suture kit.

Both non-absorbable and absorbable sutures may be included in suture kits. Smaller skin lacerations can be treated with non-absorbable sutures, which are made with polymer thread. Absorbable sutures are best used for deep tissue wounds that require a lengthier stay on the body.

Absorbable sutures are made from animal intestines or other absorbable materials. They can break down and be absorbed over time, allowing for maximum healing. This prevents the wounds from having to be re-opened, causing further risk for infection. Use of absorbable sutures is also more conducive for bone repair and vascular healing.

Hemostats are usually included in suture kits. A hemostat, or hemostatic clamp, joins two edges together. This ensures the most precise stitch possible when providing wound care. Bandages and antiseptic are usually included in a suture kit as well. These are to help prevent infection, keep wounds clean, and secure body parts in place.

Prior to use, all suture kit instruments should be sterilized with alcohol. They may also be sterilized by boiling them in water. Unsterilized instruments should not come into contact with open wounds. Once fully sterilized, suture kits can be kept in a general first aid kit as well as with camping gear, in the car, and with any emergency kits kept in the home.

Wounds should be fully cleaned and free of debris prior to being sutured. People with little to no surgical knowledge should refrain from using suture kits unless the situation is an absolute emergency. Improper stitching can lead to complications such as infection and severe scaring. In order to be properly prepared for an emergency, first aid courses including basic suture methods are available to the general public.

Suture kits are used when wounds need to be stitched immediately.
Suture kits are used when wounds need to be stitched immediately.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments


@cardsfan27 - Good questions. I was actually on a research trip in Africa a few years ago, and we had to use a suture kit on someone. We were hiking around on some rough terrain, and one of the people fell and got a deep cut on his arm.

The kits we had were primarily single use, but you could have used them more than once if absolutely necessary. Basically, all the equipment came in a sterilized and sealed package. The hemostats and scissors and needle and stuff were all metal, though, so you could have used them again if they were sterilized. The thing is just that, where we were, we needed multiple kits since we weren't anywhere to re-sterilize equipment.

Our kits didn't have any numbing wipes, but from what the guy said, he didn't feel any pain. I guess the adrenaline took care of that. His cut was relatively small, and we had a nurse with us familiar with stitches, so his arm came out well in the end.


I guess I never really thought about what you would need for emergency survival. A suture kit could easily be the difference between life and death in some situations.

Any time that I have had stitches, though, I have always gotten some sort of a local anesthetic that numbed the area. Do these kits come with anything like that that would help to ease the pain? I figure the stuff they use at hospitals wouldn't be available for a regular person, but it seems like the kit could include some sort of a numbing wipe that would at least have a little bit of an effect.

The other thing I was wondering too was how the kits came. Are they kind of like disposable suture kits that you would just use one time and throw everything away, or could you keep using the equipment over and over again?


@titans62 - I actually have a suture kit in my first aid kit, but fortunately, I have never had to use it. Most of my job involves me being outdoors in the woods by myself for long periods of time. Sometimes there will be one or two people in the general vicinity with me, but for the most part, I am the only person for miles around. If I were to ever get a serious injury, it could be difficult for me to get in contact with someone or get to a doctor.

I have never had a formal class on how to stitch anyone up, but I have had stitches before, and I don't think it would be too hard. At least in my case, I think they would be more of a temporary solution just to slow the bleeding long enough for me to get to a hospital.

Even if you do have a suture kit, it still might be difficult to use by yourself, especially if you have a would somewhere on an arm, or somewhere you can't easily reach like your back or shoulder.


Wow, I had no idea that there were first aid kits that came with the materials to stitch up wounds. Luckily I have never been in a position where I would need to use one.

Besides just getting a first aid kit that would have the various materials, can you find suture kits for sale by themselves? How much would it cost for everything that you would need?

The article briefly mentions that there are classes you can take that will teach you how to do the sutures. Has anyone ever taken one of these classes or just had a suture kit that you had to use on yourself or someone else? I'm just curious what the general techniques are and whether or not it is difficult to do.

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