History of Sutures: How it all started?

No one wants a wound or an injury; unfortunately, it is a part of human life. Whether it is warfare, sports or even daily activity, there are chances that one may get injured. Since times, immemorial humans have been devising ways to treat these wounds. Surgical sutures, which today are commonly used by doctors and healthcare staff to treat injures, are one such medical technique that have been in use for a very long period. A suture is basically a stitch. During an injury sustained by the patient, these stitches are applied to the affected area to hold the tissue in place.


As per records, sutures have been around since Neolithic times. The earliest known practitioners of sutures were the ancient Egyptians in 3000 BC. Over the centuries many other nationalities also began to use sutures on a wide scale. In the ancient world, sutures find mention in the works of Sushruta, a famous Indian sage and physician; Greek physician Hippocrates; Galen, a Roman physician who lived in the 2nd century AD; and Aulus Cornelius Celcus.


With the passage of time, Sutures have witnessed changes and new developments. Catgut sutures were one of the most popular types of sutures. These were made from the intestines of sheep and a few other animals. 19th century British surgeon Joseph Lister took sutures to the next level. Sutures would often get infected, causing medical problems for the patients. To prevent infection from spreading, surgeons would cauterize the wound. In the 1860s, Lister advocated that the sutures should be sterilized to prevent them from becoming infected. He attempted the sterilization process by using carbolic catgut. Through continuous experimentation, the sterilization process of the catgut was perfected, and it became a more effective instrument for treating wounds as it lessened the risk of infection.


The following years witnessed more innovations and improvements in sutures. George Merson, a Scottish chemist, is credited with introducing artificial surgical catgut and eyeless needled sutures. The use of absorbable and non-absorbable synthetics became widespread in the 1930s. In the 1960s more work was done on this medical equipment and sutures began to be sterilized by irradiation. The sutures that are used today by healthcare professionals owe their development to polymer technology. Though some countries have disallowed the use of gut sutures, some countries still use these sutures. Silk suture is another form that is still prevalent.


An integral part of the healthcare industry, sutures are available in two varieties. These include the absorbable & non-absorbable sutures. Over the past many centuries this equipment has been providing relief to patients. The future may see further making them more effective. Today, sutures are available at chemists and online stores like SMB, which stock a wide range of sutures including Vicryl sutures and other medical equipment.