Comparative evaluation of metallic skin staples or polypropylene sutures for primary closure of teat wounds in sheep

To compare stainless steel staples and polypropylene suture material for primary closure of wounds after teat amputation in ewes and to assess progress of healing in the presence or absence of intramammary infection (IMI).

Chios-cross ewes, aged 3–5 years were randomly allocated to be infected in one teat with 1,200–1,500 cfu of Mannheimia haemolytica 5 days after parturition (groups A and B; n = 8 in each group) or remain uninfected (groups C and D; n = 4 in each group). On the following 4 days one teat from each ewe was amputated 2.5 cm from the teat end and the wound was closed using skin staples (groups A and C) or polypropylene sutures (groups B and D). Clinical evaluation of wound healing was performed between 1–21 days after surgery. On day 21 tissue sections were collected for tensiometric and histological evaluation.

The mean interval from the start to finish of wound closure was shorter when staples were used than when sutures were used (p < 0.001). Healing scores were lower (improved) for ewes in group A than B between days 1–7 after surgery (p = 0.005), but were similar between days 10–21 (p = 0.43). Healing scores were similar in groups C and D (p = 0.98). The tensile strain at maximum load was higher in tissue from group A than B (p = 0.001) and D (p = 0.004), but all other tensiometric measures were similar between groups. Histologically, collagen density was higher in sections from group A than B (p = 0.05) and D (p = 0.01), and angiogenesis was lower in sections from group A than B (p = 0.03) and D (p = 0.01).

Skin staples and polypropylene sutures can be used effectively for primary closure of teat wounds, even in the presence of IMI. Skin staples had the advantage of a reduction in surgical time.

IMI: intramammary infection