Background: The ability to obtain an objective comparison of scar formations by reproducible and quantitatively measurable results have posed a longstanding problem. This was especially troublesome when conclusions were to be drawn about the materials and methods applied. Two-dimensional methods (photography) gave no plastic impression about the spatial coherences in an examined scar. However, a quantifiable and reproducible recording of volumes and a 3-dimesional visualization of scars should provide the basis of any evaluation of methods and materials.
Methods: The OPTOCAT 3-dimensional scanning technique that was used was provided by the Breuckmann GmbH Company (Meersburg, Germany), and it permits a 3-dimensional, contact-free recording of data. The experiment animal was the Goettinger minipig. A total of 10 animals were used to examine the process of wound healing and scar development in full skin incisions. Every animal was incised 20 times with a 10-cm long and 20 times with a 2-cm long wound. In our investigation, comparable suture materials (skin adhesive, absorbing and nonabsorbing suture materials) of the companies Braun (Histaocryl, Monosyn, Safil, Premilene) and Ethicon (Dermabond, Monocryl, Vicryl, Prolene) as well as various suture techniques were used (continuous, mattress suture, and over-and-over/interrupted suture; each once with and once without an intracutaneous suture). In the course of the trial, numerous images of all wounds-a total 1200-were taken. Thanks to the 3-dimensional software, the resulting scar volumes of lacerations, which received different wound management, were quantifiably recorded, compared, and evaluated.
Results: In total, dehiscence occurred in 2.5% of all treated wounds. The greatest share (15%) fell to wounds treated with Histoacryl skin adhesive. In the end, skin adhesive, mattress, and interrupted suture all delivered similar results. An additional intracutaneous suture had, with an increasing wound length, a positive effect on the intention/wound healing, especially in connection with the application of skin adhesive. Except the combination of continuous absorbable suture and intracutaneous suture, the scar volume dwindled over time and adapted to the surrounding skin level. Continuous sutures were, by comparison, more inclined to an increased scarring (absorbable suture > nonabsorbable suture). It did not escape our notice that in case of small wounds, all various suturing materials and methods led to almost identical results. With respect to scarring, no significant difference regarding the suturing material was proven.
Conclusions: If possible, the wound closure, treated with common suturing techniques and especially with skin adhesive, should be enhanced by an intracutaneous suture with an increasing length of the wound. Under certain circumstances, skin adhesive is an adequate substitute for common suturing materials and methods. The final decision about the method and material is as much closely related to the length and localization of the wound as to time exposure, efficiency, and the comfort of the patient.
Summary: For objective comparison of intention and scarring, a scanning technique was used that permits a quantifiable, contact-free, single-session recording of volume differences. For this purpose, various suture materials and methods were used. Altogether, it could be shown that, if possible, wound closure treated with common suturing techniques, and especially with skin adhesive, should be enhanced by an intracutaneous suture with an increase in wound length. At the same time and under certain circumstances, skin adhesive poses an adequate substitute for the common suturing materials and methods. In the end, however, the final decision about the choice of method and material should be made depending on the localization and expanse of the wound as well as on the comfort of the patient (eg, absorbable suture/nonabsorbable suture), the time of exposure (eg, skin adhesive vs suture), and the economic efficiency (eg, producer of suture material).