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Material Of Dissolvable Sutures Can Treat Brain Infections

For centuries, plastic surgeons, obstetricians, urologists, dentists and oral surgeons and even veterinarians have used stitches to close up the gashes, cuts and surgical incisions. Now, many physicians are using some form of dissolvable stitches (also called absorbable sutures). The great thing about dissolvable stitches is that they can be used on internal or external wounds.


What Is Dissolvable Stitches?


To a humanís body, stitches are a foreign substance, and the body is programmed to destroy foreign substances. Dissolvable stitches are made from natural materials, such as processed collagen (animal intestines), silk and hair, as well as some synthetic materials that the body can break down. This allows the body to dissolve the stitches over time. Usually, by the time the stitches are dissolved, the wound is completely healed.


Occasionally, a stitch wonít dissolve completely. This usually occurs when part of the stitch is left on the outside of the body. There, the bodyís fluids cannot dissolve and decompose the stitch, so it remains intact. A doctor can easily remove the remaining piece of stitch once the wound is closed.


Dissolvable sutures differ from non-absorbable stitches as they are:

  • Naturally decomposed by the body

  • Temporary and donít usually require a follow-up doctorís visit to remove the stitches or check on the wound

A plastic material already used in absorbable surgical sutures and other medical devices shows promise for continuous administration of antibiotics to patients with brain infections. Scientists are reporting in a new study. Use of the material, placed directly on the brainís surface, can reduce the need for weeks of costly hospital stays.


Infections are life-threatening complications that occur in about 5-10 % of patients who have brain surgery. Current treatment involves intravenous antibiotics for up to eight weeks and extended, costly hospital stays. Previous studies showed that drug-delivering plastics could release antibiotics directly into the brain. However, additional surgery is needed to remove the plastic when treatment finished. Biodegradable version using a dissolvable plastic called PLGA (Poly(lactic -co-glycolic acid)) can be developed for this purpose.


PLGA fibers release vancomycin, a powerful antibiotic that kills many microbes. The fibers successfully release vancomycin for more than eight weeks in the brain and they do so without apparent side effects.