A breakthrough in use of hair as suture material

GULBARGA, JULY 12. A breakthrough has been achieved by a team of doctors of the Mahadevappa Rampure Medical College in the successful use of hair as a suture material for the first time in India on both human beings and animals.

Though an atraumatic suture was manufactured from human hair by Japanese doctors in 1996 and used in 817 clinical cases with satisfactory results, it is for the first time that clinical experiments on the use of hair as suture material in India have been conducted by the team consisting of Dr. Arunkumar Badsheshi, Dr. Umeshchandra and Dr. N.H.Mahantappa.

Even the earliest Indian surgical text, "Susruta Samhita" of Susruta mentions in detail the use of triangular, round bodies, curved and straight needles made from flax, hemp bark fibre or hair in surgery to sew up wounds.

Dr. Mahantappa, who has conducted detailed studies on the use of hair as a suture material, told The Hindu here that clinical trials on animals and human beings revealed that the new suture material did not swell in water or blood nor it caused reaction after being buried in tissue for 150 days. Although the catgut suture material which was one of the oldest suture material known to mankind had many advantages, hair as a suture material was cheap when compared to other conventional suture material, including catgut.

The advantages of hair as suture material was more compared to other conventional suture materials, both absorbable and non- absorbable. Human hair could be easily procured and there was no additional financial burden on patients. Hair could be easily sterilised and it had adequate tensile strength.

Hair as suture material was accepted by host tissues and the healing response and wound union was excellent. Women's hair was found to be more suitable to be used as suture material than men's hair. While men's hair was usually short, thicker, coarser and darker, women's hair was found to be longer, thinner and finer.

Dr. Mahantappa said that the clinical tests of the suture material were conducted on six persons and 48 Albino mice. He said after human hair was used to suture wounds of mice they appeared healed (on the seventh day after the operation), and the wounds appeared completely healed on the 21st day with collagen scar. Even after the 60th day of the operation hair knots stayed well buried in the skin without signs any of inflammation.

The clinical studies on human volunteers revealed that the patients responded well to the treatment with thin scar marks on the portion where the operation was performed.

Wound on the wrist of a person stitched up with hair as suture material and at right after removal of hair suture on the 10th day.