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General Orthopaedics


Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) – Spring 2015


Wound closure is typically not the surgeon's favorite part of the case. It is critical, however, for preventing infection, avoiding early re-operation and is the portion of the procedure that is most directly visible to the patient. The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of bidirectional, barbed suture for wound closure in primary total hip (THA) and knee arthroplasty (TKA) to determine whether its use is safe, cosmetic and associated with time savings when compared with traditional suture.

We carried out a blinded, randomised controlled trial comparing bidirectional, barbed suture (Quill™ SRS; Angiotech Pharmaceuticals) and a traditional absorbable layered closure following primary THA and TKA. We randomised 20 THAs (10 Quill; 10 traditional) and 31 TKAs (16 Quill; 15 traditional). Power analysis determined that a minimum of 23 patients per arm of the study were required to show a significant difference in closure times using an alpha of 0.05 and a beta of 0.80.

Wound closure in the Quill group was significantly faster than traditional suture by a mean of 4.1 minutes (9.2 vs. 13.2 minutes; p = 0.0005). Traditional closure required a mean 5.6 sutures, compared to a mean 2.7 sutures (p < 0.0001). The unit cost of the barbed suture was 5–12 times that of conventional suture. One patient who had undergone Quill closure developed a superficial reaction that was managed non-operatively.

Our results have been confirmed by a similar recently published randomised study by Gilland et al, who showed a mean reduction in closure time of 4.7 minutes. However, these authors concluded that overall costs were lower with a barbed suture based on a reduction in operative times. This method of closure has also been shown to provide a stronger and more water-tight closure than traditional interrupted sutures.