The purpose of this study was to compare the traditional method for repair of cardiac lacerations using sutures and pledgets (S/P) with repair using a skin stapling device (SSD) performed by emergency medicine residents. In a prospective, randomized, non-blinded animal study, 20 anesthetized mongrel dogs were instrumented and underwent left lateral thoracotomy, pericardiotomy, and cardiac exposure. In set 1, a standardized 8-mm right ventricular stab wound was made with a #10 scalpel; emergency medicine residents then immediately performed emergent cardiorrhaphy by either S/P (n = 5) or SSD (n = 5) technique. In set 2, 10 dogs received standardized 8-mm right ventricular stab wounds followed by repair and then received a second stab wound to the same right ventricle that was subsequently repaired by the same operator using the alternate technique. All dogs were observed for 60 min for gross blood loss, hemodynamic instability, and integrity of repair. The results demonstrate that SSD cardiorrhaphy was significantly faster (29 +/- 11 sec in set 1; 14 +/- 6 sec in set 2) than S/P repair (201 +/- 10 sec in set 1; 196 +/- 59 sec in set 2). No appreciable differences in blood loss or repair integrity were noted in either group. Two operators in the S/P group suffered needle puncture injuries. In conclusion, cardiorrhaphy by SSD is faster to perform, has similar repair integrity, and has less risk of accidental contaminated needle injury than does traditional S/P repair when performed by emergency medicine residents.