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Can J Cardiol. 2000 Nov;16(11):1403-7.

Clips versus suture technique: is there a difference?

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Montreal General Hospital, McGillUniversity Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is one of the most common procedures performed today, and wound complications are a major source of morbidity and cost.


To determine whether there is any difference in wound outcome (including cost in a Canadian context) between a subcuticular suture technique and skin stapling technique for closure of sternal and leg incisions in CABG patients.


One hundred and sixty-two patients undergoing CABG were prospectively, randomly placed to have their sternal and leg incisions closed with either a subcuticular suture technique or with a skin clip. Data were obtained through chart review, in-hospital assessments and follow-up visits. Nonblinded assessments were made regarding wound leakage, inflammation, infection, necrosis, swelling, dehiscence and cosmesis. Each of the parameters was graded on a scale from 1 to 4. The cost was evaluated in Canadian dollars.


There were trends toward increased rates of in-hospital sternal (P=0.09) and leg (P=0.17) incision inflammation when the wounds were closed with skin clips. There was a significantly greater (P=0.05) rate of sternal wound infection with clips, as well as a tendency (P=0.15) toward a greater rate of mediastinitis at follow-up assessment. Cosmetic outcome was similar for both groups. The cost incurred was significantly greater when skin clips were used for closure. There was a greater than threefold difference, which translates to a greater than $10,000 difference over one year.


Closure with a subcuticular technique achieves better outcomes than the use of skin clips. When factoring in the increased cost incurred by using clips, as well as other intangible factors such as surgical skill acquisition, subcuticular suture closure appears to be a favourable method of wound closure in CABG patients compared with the use of skin stapling techniques.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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