Super Suture Saves Lives

FRESNO, Calif.

William Ross lets his fingers do the talking, but an accident almost cut his playing days short.

"William was making his lunch for school for the next day," Kim Ross, William's mother, told Ivanhoe.

"I took a paper towel and started cleaning this off like this," William, who is 10 years old, demonstrated for Ivanhoe.

The serrated knife sliced through three fingers.

"He burst out onto the patio, and blood, of course, was just gushing," Kim recalled.

William cut the main tendon in his ring finger.

"Once he cut that, he essentially had almost a useless digit," Wesley Paul Thayer, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of plastic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., told Ivanhoe.

Experts call this part of the hand "no man's land," as surgery here rarely results in a full recovery. So, Dr. Thayer tried out something new.

"In William's case, we used a newer suture, called FiberWire, that we found in our lab to be at least 30-percent stronger than previous, than other sutures that we use," Dr. Thayer said.

FiberWire is made of braided polyester, which is more durable than its nylon predecessor.

Dr. Thayer reattached William's tendon with FiberWire, but that was just half the job. Young patients normally get fitted with a rigid cast.

"We don't trust them with the repair," Dr. Thayer explained. "If they go out and overdo it, let's say they swing on monkey bars or they wrestle with their dog or with their siblings, they can tear apart the tendon."

His "super suture" allowed William to wear a flexible splint. That meant an early jump on physical therapy, instead of waiting the standard six weeks.

The FiberWire suture is used in surgical procedures ranging from Achilles tendon repairs to rotator cuff repairs. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Craig Boerner
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
(615) 322-4747

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