Why sutures are a critical part of a veterinary practice
Reps need to understand the three components of sutures: the suture material itself, the needle and the package.
The suture material is the most obvious component to scrutinize. Because sutures are used in a gloved hand, the feel or handling must be easy, pliable and supple. Kinked or stiff suture material is less than desirable. The knots must be secure to prevent unraveling. The suture material must be very strong to resist breaking. The suture must be inert to guard against reactions or infections.
Synthetic absorbable sutures are the dominant implant type in veterinary surgery. There are a variety of brands that perform different functions. Some sutures hold wounds together for a short period of time and absorb very quickly. Others hold wounds together for up to six weeks and take over six months to absorb. Here is a general reference chart of synthetic absorbable suture materials:
Brand Name Tensile Strength Construction
PDS II 6-weeks Monofilament
Monocryl 3-weeks Monofilament
Vicryl 4-weeks Braided
Maxon 6-weeks Monofilament
Biosyn 3-weeks Monofilament
Monomend Max 6-weeks Monofilament
Monomend MT 3-weeks Monofilament
Monosorb 6-weeks Monofilament
Sorbacryl 3-weeks Monofilament
Polysorb 4-weeks Braided
Precise placement of sutures in tissue is very important for wound healing. The role of the suture needle is to make precise placement happen. Therefore, strong and sharp needles are extremely important. Dull needles can not only impede suture placement, they may cause additional tissue trauma. When selling a suture line, make sure you are comfortable with the sharpness and strength of the needles they come with.
Finally, the packaging can make using a suture material pleasant or frustrating. When removing the suture from the package, the surgeon will grasp the needle in their needle-driver and pull the suture out. The package must allow the surgeon easy access to the needle. Remember that the package is being opened with the gloved hand. A cumbersome package can cause frustration, waste time and money. A good idea is to practice opening suture packages and placing the needle in the needle holder before making that sales call. Be prepared to demonstrate to your customer expertise in handling your suture lines. This will give you credibility in the eyes of your surgeon customer.
There are numerous issues a customer will encounter when using sutures. As a distributor representative, it’s important to understand what frustrates your customer. Issues include:
• Sutures that are stiff or kinked, which is a result of high memory
• Sutures that break while tying
• Knots which become unraveled
• Inconsistent suture diameter, which can cause tissue trauma
• Tissue reactions or infections
• Dull needles
• Bending needles
• Broken needles
• Needles that become detached from the suture
• Needles that twist or rock in the needle holder
• Packaging that is difficult to open and access the needle.
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