Number 15 scalpel.
(1) Straight needle/curved needle. There are two types of needles: the
straight needle and the curved needle. The straight needle is used with hands, and the
curved needle is used with needle holders.
(2) Tapered needle/cutting needle. A tapered needle has a circular cross-
sectional configuration and leaves a small hole. A cutting needle has a triangular cross-
sectional configuration and is better able to pass through tough skin.
(3) Grades of needles. Two grades of needles are the cuticular needle and
the plastic needle. The cuticular needle is designated by the letter C and FS for skin.
The plastic needle is designated by the letter P for plastic and PS for plastic surgery.
The plastic needle is honed more sharply than the cuticular needle. Also, the plastic
needle is more expensive than a cuticular needle.
(4) Size of needles. The needle size is indicated by the number that follows
the needle letter. Usually, the larger the number, the smaller the needle. Small needles
are used for fine repair such as treating facial lacerations. Larger needles are used for
taking bigger bites of tissue such as scalp lacerations.
c. Suture Materials. One of the bases upon which surgery is founded is the
suture of wounds. Many kinds of present day sutures have been known for thousands
of years, but only since Lister's discoveries have the use of sutures been safe. Suture
is a medical term for a thread-like material that is used to stitch or approximate (bring
together) tissue edges until healing takes place. Other terms to know are gauge and
tensile strength. Gauge refers to the diameter of the suture or the distance around the
suture. Tensile strength refers to the amount of weight or pull that may be exerted on a
suture before the suture will break.
(1) Suture sizes. Suture sizes range from a fine number 9-0 to heavy
number 5. Suture sizing is controlled by USP standards. Small sutures (number 0
through number 9-0) are in greater demand because the small diameter provides better
handling qualities and smaller knots. Larger sutures (number 1 through number 5) are
used as a retention stitch, that being a stitch used to reinforce a primary suture line.
The kind and size of suture used depends on the patient, the type of tissue, the
surgeon's preference, and the available suture material.