Evaluation of the Histologic Reactions to Commonly Used Suture Materials in Ball Pythons (Python regius)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010
Michael S. McFadden1, MS, DVM; R. Avery Bennett1, DVM, MS, DACVS; Michael J. Kinsel2, DVM, DACVP; Mark A. Mitchell1, DVM, MS, PhD
1Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA; 2University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Zoological Pathology Program, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL, USA


Tissue reaction to suture materials has been studied in several non-domestic species,1-4 but only a single short-term study exists in reptiles.2 We evaluated the histologic reaction to eight different suture materials and cyanoacrylate tissue adhesive over a period of 90 days in 30 hatchling ball pythons. Ten incisions were made in each snake and sutures were placed in the muscle and skin using PDS, PDS Plus, Monocryl, Monocryl Plus, Vicryl, chromic gut, Ethilon, and stainless steel. One incision was closed using cyanoacrylate tissue adhesive, and the last incision was left to heal by second intention and act as a negative control. Snakes were euthanatized at 3, 7, 14, 30, 60, and 90 days following suture implantation, and histologic reaction to the suture was evaluated. All suture materials caused significantly more inflammation than the negative control. Cyanoacrylate tissue adhesive did not cause a significant tissue reaction compared to the negative control. All suture types were intact 90 days following implantation and caused a chronic inflammatory response and granuloma formation. In several samples the granulomas appeared to be contiguous with the skin and the suture appeared to be in the process of being extruded from the underlying tissues. Due to prolonged absorption compared to published data in mammals some suture may undergo extrusion prior to complete absorption.

Literature Cited

1.  Bennett R.A., M.J. Yaeger, A. Trapp, and R.C. Cambre. 1997. Histologic evaluation of the tissue reaction to five suture material in the body wall of rock doves (Columba livia). J Avian Med Surg 11:175–182.

2.  Govett P.D., C.A. Harms, K.E. Linder, K.E. Linder, J.C. Marsh, and J. Wyneken. 2004. Effects of four different suture materials on the surgical wound healing of loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta. J Herp Med Surg 14:6–10.

3.  Hurty C.A., D.C. Brazik, J. McHugh Law, K. Sakamoto, and G.A. Lewbart. 2002. Evaluation of the tissue reactions in the skin and body wall of koi (Cyprinus carpio) to five suture materials. Vet Rec 151:324–328.

4.  Tuttle A.D., J. Mc Law, C.A. Harms, G.A. Lewbart, and S. B. Harvey. 2006. Evaluation of the gross and histologic reactions to five commonly used suture materials in the skin of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 45:22–26.


Speaker Information
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Michael S. McFadden, MS, DVM
Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, IL, USA

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