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Stitching Wounds May Be Safer Than Stapling

Infection rate is higher with metal staples, review finds

WEDNESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Infections are more common when orthopedic surgeons use metal staples instead of old-fashioned nylon sutures to close wounds, British researchers report.

Infections after surgery can lead to longer hospital stays or readmission after procedures such as knee and hip replacement. Infected wounds can also cause serious complications.

Staples are thought to be faster and easier to use, but there has been concern that they're expensive and could cause more infections.

In a new review, published March 17 online in BMJ, researchers at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in England looked at six studies involving 683 wounds that compared sutures to staples.

The researchers found that wounds closed by staples were more than three times more likely to develop superficial infections than those closed by sutures. The rate was four times higher in hip surgery.

However, the researchers said the studies were generally of poor quality.

Even so, they wrote that patients and doctors should be cautious about using staples to close wounds.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has a tutorial on preparing for surgery.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, March 15, 2010

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