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BACKGROUND - Wound closure accounts for a relatively constant portion of the time required to complete a surgical case. Both longer closure times and wound infections contribute to higher medical costs and patient morbidity.
QUESTIONS/PURPOSES - We therefore determined whether (1) biologic and treatment factors greater influenced wound healing than the choice of sutures or staples; and (2) different times to closure affected cost when sutures or staples are used in patients with musculoskeletal tumors.
METHODS - We retrospectively reviewed 511 patients who had sarcoma resections of the buttock, thigh, and femur from 2003 to 2010; 376 had closure with sutures and 135 with staples. Data were abstracted on patient demographics, comorbidities, select procedural data, and wound complications. Wound complications were defined by hospitalization within 6 months postoperatively for a wound problem, irrigation and débridement, or infection treated with antibiotics. We determined the association between staples versus sutures and wound complications after controlling for confounding factors. The minimum followup was 2 weeks. A prospective, timed analysis of wounds closed with either sutures or staples was also performed.
RESULTS - We found an association between obesity and radiation and wound complications. Wounds were closed an average of 5.3 minutes faster with staples than with suture (0.29 minutes versus 5.6 minutes, respectively), saving a mean 2.1% of the total operating time although the total operating time was similar in the two groups.
CONCLUSIONS - We found no difference in wound complications after closure with sutures or staples, although obesity and radiation treatment appear to affect wound outcomes. Data suggest that time saved in the operating room by closing with staples compensates for added material costs and does not compromise wound care in patients with lower extremity sarcomas.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE - Level II, prognostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.