Staples are faster, but sutures are safer, researchers have concluded in a new study of how incisions are closed after a cesarean section.
The scientists randomly assigned 746 women undergoing a C-section to either suture or staple closure. They excluded women with diabetes, those with chronic steroid use, lupus or HIV infection, a history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvis, and those with known sensitivity to the materials used in closing the incision.
The study, which received funding from Ethicon, a maker of sutures, was published in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. It found that 10.6 per cent of women in the staples group had wound complications, mostly infections and separations, compared with 4.9 per cent of the women with stitches.
After controlling for age, race, number of previous C-sections and other factors, they found that sewing was associated with a 57 per cent reduced risk of wound complications.
“A woman undergoing a C-section should ask the doctor what they’re going to use,” said one of the authors, Dr Vincenzo Berghella, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia. “If they hear ‘staples’, they should question that. It’s clear that sutures are going to cause fewer wound complications.”
Stitching takes about nine minutes longer than stapling. But in a C-section, Dr Berghella said, where local anaesthesia is generally used, that time difference is unimportant.