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Ann Plast Surg. 2007 Mar;58(3):268-72.

The effect of saliva and oral intake on the tensile properties of sutures: an experimental study.

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  • 1Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY 40536-0284, USA.


The plastic surgeon often operates in the oral cavity. Little or no information exists regarding the effect of saliva and oral intake upon the tensile properties of suture. Polyglactin 910 (Vicryl) and chromic gut were studied. Five sutures of each type were subjected to saline, saliva, milk, or soy milk over different durations of exposure. Suture breaking strength was tested. A 4-way interaction between suture type, size, liquid, and time was significant (P = 0.0046). Sutures soaked in saliva were significantly weaker. No significant difference was observed between sutures soaked in milk or soy. Saliva appears to enhance degradation rates in both sutures. Suture selection in the oral cavity should be predicated upon the demands of the repair and surgeon's preference. Postoperative feeding instructions should limit tension across mucosal repairs, but the selection of formula should be based upon nutritional requirements and preferences of the child rather than concern over suture degradation.

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