These days, in many species incisions are often closed with staples rather than stitches--and they're not just for external use any more. At the 2007 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in Orlando, Fla., Christina Ellis, DVM, a veterinarian with Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Fla., described the use of a TA-90 stapling device to close the large colon following a pelvic flexure enterotomy (opening and removal of large intestinal contents to treat colic).

At Peterson & Smith, at least 200 horses have undergone this procedure since 1983 with no known complications, reported Ellis. The advantages are simplicity and shorter surgical times--the process is approximately 12 minutes faster with the TA-90 device--compared to a hand-sewn, double-layer closure. Disadvantages include only the cost of the equipment (hospital costs are $65 for staple cartridges spanning 9 cm) and the need to learn how to use the device. Multiple staple cartridges can be used to close incisions longer than 9 cm, although this is rarely needed.

The stainless steel staples are left in the colon, becoming part of the healed gut wall, Ellis reported. No known complications or tissue reactions have occurred from this.

"Staple closure is as effective as hand sewing for this procedure, and faster," concluded Ellis.

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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