The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 9, 2006 - 2010

The Impact of Running, Monofilament Barbed Suture for Subcutaneous Tissue Closure on Infection Rates in Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis

Thacher, Ryan R. et al.


Recently, running, monofilament barbed suture has become more popular as an efficient and economical alternative to traditional braided interrupted suture for wound closure following total joint arthroplasty. Its overall association with wound complications following surgery remains unknown at this time. Several studies have investigated its use in total knee arthroplasty (TKA), but there is limited literature surrounding use in total hip arthroplasty (THA). In this retrospective cohort study, our primary objective was to determine whether the use of monofilament barbed suture in THA was associated with reduced rates of postoperative infection when compared to traditional braided suture.


Patients who underwent primary unilateral THA between November 2011 and December 2017 by a single senior surgeon with closure using either monofilament barbed suture (162 patients) or braided interrupted suture (429 patients) were retrospectively reviewed for postoperative wound complications during the first 90 days after surgery. Demographics, comorbidities, and perioperative data were also included to assess for risk factors for infection.


There was no difference between braided and barbed suture in overall rates of major complication, including periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) (0.47% vs 0.62%, P = .82) or revisions (1.86% vs 1.23%, P = .60). The overall rate of minor, superficial wound complications was also similar between both groups (6.1% vs 3.1%, P = .15). However, when superficial complications were categorized by type (dehiscence vs infection), the use of barbed suture was associated with a decreased rate of superficial wound infection (0% vs 5.4%, P = .003) and an increased rate of wound dehiscence (3.1% vs 0.7%, P = .04).


The use of monofilament barbed suture for superficial skin closure in THA leads to similar overall rates of both major and minor wound complications when compared to traditional interrupted braided suture. However, while barbed suture was associated with fewer superficial infections, there was an increased incidence of wound dehiscence. Overall, barbed suture demonstrated a cumulatively equivalent rate of superficial wound complications compared to braided suture. Based on this investigation, barbed suture appears safe to use in THA and may represent an efficient and effective alternative to braided suture for wound closure.

Level of Evidence

Level IV; retrospective cohort study.

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