Researchers at the University of Texas have been comparing stitching with conservative treatment (keeping the wound clean and covered) in a group of 91 patients attending the emergency room. Doing without stitches is a less painful approach to dealing with cuts to the hand, and the wound still heals in a satisfactory way. Having a cut stitched is a painful experience - but it's generally been assumed this is necessary to achieve wound closure and healing.
The patients were assigned to either stitching or conservative treatment, and asked to come back in eight to ten days for assessment. The time to return to normal activities needing the hand was the same in both groups. Those receiving the conservative treatment reported less pain, and shorter treatment time (about 14 minutes less).
Four months later, the wounds had closed up and healed to the same extent in both cases. In fact, the researchers say it was impressive to see how inconspicuous all the wounds then were. Doing without stitches could save time, money and patient discomfort.
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