Suture needles are used for suturing wounds after an accident or surgery. They generally come as a single piece and have the suture material attached to the swaged base of the needle. When grasping a suture needle it should be done about 2/3 of the way back from the point using a needle holder. Gripping it any further back where the needle is curved causes it to become weak resulting in the needle bending.
There are a range of suture needles available, each one designed for a different purpose and procedure. There is however one main distinction that should be made between them and that is whether or not they are taper needles (otherwise known as smooth) or cutting needles. A tapered needle does as the name suggests, it narrows from the centre to the top and has a round shaft. This type of suturing needle is used on tissues that are easy to penetrate such as those found internally, for example the bowel or a blood vessel.
A cutting needle on the other hand is used for penetrating tissues that are tough, for example the skin. The needle has a triangular shaft and point which makes it easier to penetrate and cut through tougher surfaces. A taper needle is never used for suturing the skin as it is not sharp enough to do so. Using one for such treatments would cause excess trauma to the skin as more force would be needed and the skin would have to be grasped tightly with a pair of forceps.
As well as those mentioned above there is what is known as a reverse cutting needle. Similar to the cutting needle only the cutting edge faces downwards rather than upwards. These are generally used to prevent sutures from pulling through the tissue which can happen in some cases.
Suture needles have been used for a considerable amount of time in the medical industry. Although they serve us well they are not yet perfect. They have advanced over the years and they continue to do so, in fact they are one of the only needles to show real improvement compared to advances made on other needles. As the medical industry grows and improves so will the needles and the materials used. At the moment suture materials consist of non-absorbable materials including silk, cotton, steel and nylon. Absorbable suture materials consist of Vicryl and Monocryl however they were originally made from processed collagen from animal's intestines.