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Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2015 Nov;107(11):677-80. doi: 10.17235/reed.2015.3863/2015.

Small bowel obstruction due to laparoscopic barbed sutures: an unknown complication?

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Cirugía General y del Aparato Digestivo, Hospital Universitario Son Espases, España.
North West London Hospitals NHS Trust. London, UK.
St. Mark's Hospital. Harrow, UK.
Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío. Sevilla.



In recent years there has been an increasing uptake in the use of barbed sutures, particularly in minimally invasive and laparoscopic procedures where they may reduce operating time and improve surgical efficiency. However, little is known about the adverse events associated with these new materials and concerns have arisen regarding their safety in certain procedures.


We performed a search of electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Database). We reveal up to 15 cases of small bowel obstruction (SBO) complicating laparoscopic pelvic surgery that have been reported to date adding two cases of SBO in our own practice following the use of barbed sutures in laparoscopic operations, both requiring surgical re-intervention in the early post-operative period.


Fifteen similar cases of small bowel obstruction were identified, all of which occurred in patients undergoing surgery below the transverse colon . Surgical re-intervention was required in all cases although 60% of these were performed laparoscopically.


These cases highlight that although barbed sutures provide an attractive means to allow easier and faster laparoscopic suturing, they should be used carefully in inframesocolic surgery and the suture end cut and buried to avoid inadvertent attachment to the small bowel or its mesentery. Barbed suture entanglement should be considered as an uncommon yet potentially serious differential cause for SBO presenting in the early period after laparoscopic surgery where a barbed suture has been used.

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