Uses of Plain Catgut Suture: Plain vs. Chromic Catgut Sutures

A plain catgut suture is a type of natural and absorbable suture. It is made of collagenous material taken from the submucosa of the small intestine of bovine (sheep and goat). It is a twisted poly-filament suture with a mono-filament appearance. This suture is usually ivory coated.

The fast absorbing surgical suture is sterile and only elicit minimal tissue reaction during absorption.

Absorption of the material of the suture in the body is by phagocytosis. Complete absorption takes up to 50 to 70 days. In infected tissues or in tissues with increased levels of proteolytic enzymes (stomach, cervix, vagina), the complete absorption is much quicker.

Plain catgut suture comes in different needle sizes and needle types (straight, round bodied, cutting edge, taper point, and blunt point).


  1. Plain catgut is used for sutures and ligatures in general surgery
  2. It is used in obstetrics and gynecology, urology and gastrointestinal surgery and cuticle.
  3. For lining or bonding soft tissue, including ophthalmic applications.
  4. Used in veterinary surgery
  5. For pediatric surgery as it regenerate tissues rapidly.


  1. Not used in cardiovascular surgery, and neurosurgery
  2. When extended wound healing support is necessary, this type of suture is not the best.
  3. People with known allergy or sensitivity to the collagen.
  4. Use with caution in people with compromised immunity that delays wound healing.
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Plain Catgut vs. Chromic Catgut Suture

Before using a catgut suture, it is also necessary to note the individual history and allergy or sensitivity to the suture material.

Plain catgut and chromic catgut can be differentiated in terms of indication, tensile strength, rate of uniform absorption and handling.

Both Plain catgut and chromic catgut are used for wound closure and are similar in their origin as both are from natural materials (bovine or ovine intestines). They are also similar in absorption feature. However, there are clear differences.

Plain catgut has no chromium salt treatment unlike chromic catgut. This makes it resorb faster and provide greater flexibility, tissue support, workability, and uniform resorption than chromic catgut.

When rapid absorption and minimal residual reaction are required, such as in superficial closures (like subcutaneous tissue and mucous membranes), the plain catgut is much better. But chromic catgut sutures are recommended in deep tissues that involve slow healing and need longer term wound support.

Plain catgut is more easily absorbed by the body within 7 to 10 days. They have short term tensile strength and are used in short-term wound support that doesn’t necessarily need long term tensile strength. Chromic catgut on the other hand, has chromic salt treatment which delays the absorption rate and also increases the tensile strength prolonging the duration of the wound support to 10 to 21 days.

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The chromic salt treatment in chromic catgut also ensures it is more flexible and has a smoother surface. This is advantageous in procedures that involve delicate tissues which requires suture material with greater flexibility.



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