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Comparison of Cosmetic Outcomes of Absorbable Versus Nonabsorbable Sutures in Pediatric Facial Lacerations

Luck, Raemma MD, MBA*; Tredway, Trevor MD, PhD; Gerard, James MD; Eyal, Dalit DO*; Krug, Lauren MD*; Flood, Robert MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3182948f26
Original Articles

Objective We sought to compare cosmetic outcomes, complication rates, and patient/caregiver satisfaction of absorbable versus nonabsorbable sutures in children.

Methods Healthy patients, 1 to 18 years old, with facial lacerations 1 to 5 cm, were randomized to repair with fast-absorbing catgut (FAC) or nylon (NYL) sutures. Patients returned in 4 to 7 days and in 3 to 4 months, at which time photographs and caregiver surveys were completed. Unlike part I, all FAC sutures were permitted to absorb rather than be removed. Using a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS), a noninferiority (NI) design was applied, with a difference of less than 15 mm considered clinically equivalent. Caregivers and 3 blinded physicians independently rated the scars via photographs.

Results Ninety-eight patients were enrolled, 76 caregiver surveys were completed, and 61 (29 FAC, 32 NYL) had photographs scored by physicians. The mean physician VAS scores for FAC and NYL were 57.6 and 67.6, respectively (difference, −10.0; 95% confidence interval, −19.1 to −0.4); thus, NI could not be established. The mean caregiver VAS scores for the FAC and NYL groups were 93.8 and 86.6, respectively (difference, 7.2; 95% confidence interval, −4.9 to 13.9); thus, NI of FAC was established. There were no significant differences in rates of infection, wound dehiscence, or keloid formation. In terms of future preference, caregivers favored FAC (33/33) over NYL (26/36) (P < 0.01).

Conclusions Caregiver VAS scores showed NI of FAC, which were also preferred by the caregivers. However, NI for FAC could not be demonstrated by blinded physicians with respect to cosmetic outcomes.

From the *Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA; and †Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, St Louis University School of Medicine at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, St Louis, MO.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Trevor Tredway, MD, PhD, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, St Louis University School of Medicine at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, 1465 S Grand Blvd, St Louis, MO 63104 (e-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.