Cosmetic outcomes of absorbable versus nonabsorbable sutures in pediatric facial lacerations

Raemma P Luck, Robert Flood, Dalit Eyal, John Saludades, Ciana Hayes, John Gaughan
Pediatric Emergency Care 2008, 24 (3): 137-42

OBJECTIVES: We sought to compare the long-term cosmetic outcomes of absorbable versus nonabsorbable sutures for facial lacerations in children and to compare the complication rates and parental satisfaction in the 2 groups.

DESIGN/METHODS: Healthy patients presenting to a pediatric emergency department with facial lacerations were randomized to repair using fast-absorbing catgut or nylon suture. Patients were followed up at 5 to 7 days and at 3 months. Three blinded observers, using a previously validated 100-mm cosmesis visual analogue scale (VAS) as the primary instrument, rated photographs of the wound taken at 3 months. For this noninferiority study, a VAS score of 15 mm or greater was considered to be the minimal clinically important difference. Parents also rated the wound using the VAS and completed a satisfaction survey.

RESULTS: Of the 88 patients initially enrolled, 47 patients completed the study: 23 in the catgut group and 24 in the nylon group. There were no significant differences in age, race, sex, wound length, number of sutures, and layered repair rates in the 2 groups. The observers' mean VAS for the catgut group was 92.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 89.1-95.4) and that for the nylon group was 93.7 (95% CI, 91.4-96.0), with a difference of the means of 1.4 (95% CI, -5.31 to 8.15), which was less than the minimal clinically important difference of 15 mm (power, >90%). The mean parental VAS score for the catgut group was 86.3 (95% CI, 78.4-94.1) and that for the nylon group was 91.2 (95% CI, 86.9-95.4), with a difference of the means of 4.9 (95% CI, 2.41-7.41), also less than 15 mm. There were no significant differences in the rates of infection, wound dehiscence, keloid formation, and parental satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of fast-absorbing catgut suture is a viable alternative to nonabsorbable suture in the repair of facial lacerations in children.

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