Sutures versus staples for the management of surgical wounds: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Am Surg. 2011 Sep;77(9):1206-21.


Surgical sutures are conventionally used in skin closure of surgical wounds. Alternative wound closure techniques include staples and adhesive strips. We aimed to evaluate sutures versus staples as methods of surgical wound closure by performing a meta-analysis. We searched PubMed, Scopus, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for randomized controlled trials that compared sutures with staples for surgical wound closure. Trials referring to orthopedic operations were excluded. Twenty studies (involving a total of 2111 patients) were included. Five studies referred to obstetrics/gynecological operations, seven to general surgery, four to emergency care treatment, three to head/neck operations, and one to vascular surgery. Regarding the time needed for wound closure, staples were superior to sutures; the mean difference observed between the sutures and staples groups was 5.56 minutes per wound (95% confidence intervals [CI], 0.05 to 11.07). Wound infections were significantly fewer in the staples group compared with the sutures group(s) (12 studies, 1529 patients; odds ratio, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.20 to 3.51). In five studies, the use of staples was associated with significantly more pain compared with sutures. The majority of studies with available relevant data reported nonsignificant differences regarding the cosmetic result and patient's satisfaction. Our findings suggest that staples are associated with fewer wound infections compared with sutures in the evaluated types of surgery. However, in a rather limited number of studies, the use of staples was associated with more pain. Further studies incorporating more objective methods for assessment cosmetic and patient satisfaction are required to clarify this issue.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / prevention & control*
  • Suture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Sutures*