A continuous or uninterrupted suture is one that is made with a single strand of suture material in a series of stitches that are not individually knotted. It is used when a wound is in a very visible place so that the stitches will not be readily apparent. The three main types of continuous sutures used by most surgeons are the over-and-over suture, the inter-locking suture, and the intra-cutaneous suture.
Continuous sutures are used for many medical procedures. After childbirth, a continuous suture is used to repair any vaginal tearing that may have occurred during delivery. Continuous sutures are also used in some plastic surgery operations, such as a face or brow lift. Some patients have reported less pain while healing when the continuous suture is used for wound closure.
The over-and-over suture is knotted at one end of the wound before the length of it is sutured closed. Suture thread is looped over the top of the cut, then back through the skin connecting the edges of the wound. Once the thread is pulled through the other side of the wound, it is looped back over the top. This process is repeated until the wound is no longer open, and then the remaining end of the thread is knotted.
A continuous inter-locking suture is more secure than the over-and-over suture method. It is often used for injuries to areas that may be subject to a lot of movement. The suture thread is knotted at one end of the wounded area, and the thread is then looped over the top of the cut. Then the suture is put through the wound pulling the two edges together. Before the suture is looped over again, the suture thread is connected to the visible suture on the top of the wound.
Another type is the intra-cutaneous suture. After the suture thread is knotted, the remaining stitches are woven from one side of the wound to the other. Most of the stitching is concealed inside the top layer of skin. This type of continuous suture is the least visible.
There are a few risks when using a continuous suture for wound closure. If any portion of the thread is cut, the entire wound may come open. An evaluation by a medical professional may be needed to determine if additional sutures should be added if this happens. It is possible that the continuous suture will have less tensile strength than another form of wound stitching.