Bacterial adherence to surgical sutures. A possible factor in suture induced infection

Ann Surg. 1981 Jul;194(1):35-41. doi: 10.1097/00000658-198107000-00007.


Surgical sutures are known to potentiate the development of wound infection. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the capability of bacteria to adhere to various types of sutures has a significant effect on their ability to cause infections. Bacterial adherence to sutures was quantitatively measured using radiolabeled bacteria. In vitro adherence assays revealed remarkable variations in the affinity of bacteria to the various sutures: nylon bound the least bacteria while bacterial adherence to braided sutures (silk, Ti-cron, Dexon) was five to eight folds higher. The degree of infection obtained in mice in the presence of different sutures nicely correlated with their adherence properties. The different removal rate of adherent bacteria (glutaraldehyde-fixed) from various sutures by the tissue factors in mice supports the hypothesis that bacterial adherence to suture materials plays a significant role in the induction of surgical infection. Our observation points out at the need for careful suture selection in contaminated wounds. The adherence properties of sutures should be considered in any future surgical suture design.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dysentery, Bacillary / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / microbiology*
  • Sutures / adverse effects*