What are the types of needle swages 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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The suture attachment end creates a single, continuous unit of suture and needle, known as the swage. The swage may be designed to permit easy release of the needle and suture material (popoff) and includes the following types:

  • Channel swage

  • Drill swage

  • Nonswaged

In a channel swage, a needle is created with a channel into which the suture is introduced, and the channel is crimped over the suture to secure it into place. The diameter of the channel swage is greater than the diameter of the needle body.

In a drill swage, material is removed from the needle end (sometimes with a laser), and the needle is crimped over the suture. The diameter of the drill swage is less than the diameter of the needle body.

Alternatively, in a nonswaged needle, the suture may be passed through an eye, similar to that found in a sewing needle. In a closed-eye configuration, the shape may be round, oblong, or square. In a French (split or spring) eye, a slit is made in the end of the needle with ridges that catch and hold the suture in place.

Several disadvantages are associated with the use of a nonswaged needle. Passage of a double strand of suture through tissue leads to more tissue trauma. The suture is more likely to become unthreaded prematurely than it would be with a swaged needle. Moreover, decreased handling helps maintain suture integrity. Swaged sutures are not subject to suture fraying or damage caused by sharp corners in the eye of eyed needles.

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