Antibacterial Sutures: Do They Really Reduce the Number of Surgical-Site Infections?

Posted by The Evidence Blog on March 27, 2012

One of our most recent health technology assessments investigated antibiotic-coated sutures to determine whether they decreased the risk of surgical-site infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), surgical-site infections are the third most common cause of hospital-acquired infections, accounting for approximately 38% of all nosocomial infections. Despite improved infection control practices, surgical-site infections remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, and the average hospital length of stay increases by 1 to 2 weeks for patients who contract surgical-site infections.

Antibacterial sutures such as Monocryl Plus™, Vicryl Plus™, and PDS™ Plus (Ethicon Inc., a Johnson & Johnson Company) have been developed to reduce the incidence of surgical-site infections and infections of other wounds that require suturing. Unlike the conventional Monocryl, Vicryl, and PDS sutures, the antibacterial suture is coated with Irgacare MP® (BASF), a pure form of triclosan. Triclosan, a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent, has been used in consumer products such as soap, toothpaste, and deodorant for more than 30 years. The slow release of triclosan from the suture inhibits bacterial colonization of the suture and wound site.

Our health technology assessment examined these relevant questions:

  • Does use of antibiotic-coated sutures reduce the incidence of infection after surgery compared with uncoated sutures?
  • Are antibiotic-coated sutures safe compared with uncoated sutures?
  • Have definitive patient selection criteria for antibiotic-coated sutures been established?

Our research found conflicting evidence that antibiotic-coated sutures reduce the incidence of infection compared with uncoated sutures. Whether the lack of consistent benefit from use of antibiotic-coated sutures reflects a weak treatment effect, differences in patient populations, variations in the adjunct procedures for infection control, or some combination of these and other unidentified factors is not known.

Hayes clients can access this complete health technology assessment, along with the Hayes Rating applied to this technology, through our Knowledge Center. If you are not a Hayes client, but would like to purchase a single copy of this report, please contact us for more info.

Topics: Health Technologies, Hayes Blog

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