Identification of Microsurgical Suture Needles in the Hand Using Plain Radiographs


Our objective is to determine if radiographs are adequate for identifi cation of retained microsurgical needles. Four microsurgical needles ranging from 3.8 mm to 6.5 mm in length and 50 μ to 130 μ in diameter were affi xed to an anthropomorphic phantom limb. Portable radiograph images were then obtained and viewed by a group of 20 subjects comprised of att ending radiologists, att ending orthopaedic surgeons, orthopaedic surgery residents and operating room nurses. For all subjects, 3.35 out of 4 needles were identifi ed in a mean 4.7 minutes. Radiologists identifi ed all four needles and needed the least amount of time (mean 2.3 minutes). Orthopaedic surgery att endings identifi ed a mean 3.5 of 4 needles while orthopaedic surgery residents and operating room nurses identifi ed a mean 3 of 4 needles. Identifi cation of microsurgical needles is possible using digital radiographs but requires 2–5 minutes of searching the image and adjusting the windows. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 29(4):230–233, 2020)

Key words: microneedles, radiographs, retained surgical instruments, microsurgical needles

Francis Bustos, MD; Nathan S. Lanham, MD; Noah J. Orfield, PhD; Peter J. Apel, MD, PhD; and Cay M. Mierisch, MD