What are the types of needle bodies and when are they used in suturing?

Updated: Mar 05, 2020
  • Author: Desiree Ratner, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Needle body types include the following:

  • Straight body

  • Half-curved ski body

  • Curved body

  • Compound curved body

The body part of the needle incorporates most of the needle length and is important for interaction with the needle holder and the ability to transmit the penetrating force to the point. Needle factors that affect this interaction include needle diameter and radius, body geometry, and stainless steel alloy. These components determine the needle-bending moment, the ultimate moment, the surgical-yield moment, and needle ductility.

The straight-body needle is used to suture easily accessible tissue that can be manipulated directly by hand. It is also used in microsurgery for nerve and vessel repair. Examples of straight-body needles include the Keith needle, which is used for skin closure of abdominal wounds, and the Bunnell needle, which is used for tendon and gastrointestinal (GI) tract repair.

The half-curved ski needle is rarely used in skin closure, because of its handling characteristics. The straight portion of the body does not follow the curved point, resulting in an enlarged curved point that makes the needle difficult to handle.

The curved needle has a predictable path through tissue and requires less space for maneuvering than a straight needle does. The semicircular path is the optimal course for sutures through tissue and provides an even distribution of tension. Body curvature commonly follows a 0.25-in., 0.375-in., 0.5-in., or 0.625-in. circle. The 0.375-in. circle is used most commonly for skin closure; the 0.5-in. circle was designed for confined spaces, and more manipulation (ie, increased wrist motion) by the surgeon is required.

The compound curved needle was originally designed for anterior-segment ophthalmic surgery. The body has a tight 80° curvature at the tip, which becomes a 45° curvature throughout the remainder of the body. A microvascular compound curved needle may also facilitate vessel approximation in microvascular surgery.

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