Intended for healthcare professionals

Filler Any Questions

What is it about the number of stitches?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 13 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1042
  1. Roshan Vijayan, plastic surgery registrar, Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead RH19 3DZ, UK,
  2. Greg Scott, neuroscience research fellow, Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust, London, UK,
  3. Foiz Ahmed, plastic surgery registrar, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Roshanvijayan{at}

It is a particular peculiarity of medicine that the interrupted suture count of a wound should serve as a lay index of injury severity. Many will recognise the invariable inquiry, “How many stitches will I have, doc?” as though this irrelevancy is the ultimate determinant of injury severity and not the damage that lies beneath the gaping wound. Why are patients fixated on an issue that is so arbitrary?

A seemingly rational lay assumption is that suture count must …

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