Some time between 1988 and 1992, when a marketeer at a suture company, I campaigned our new “blunt tip” suture needle on the strapline “Your Life In Your Hands”.
It was only a moderate success, which was actually surprising given the 1980s HIV/AIDS panic, but we reflected at the time that surgeons may simply find a blunt tipped suture needle to be less effective than a sharp one in most tissue. Which it is in many tissues, but by no means all tissue types require a sharp point and indeed some may benefit from the form of blunt penetration achieved with a round-ended needle.
Anyway, arguments aside, we leap forward to 2012 to find that FDA and associated organisations have now issued new guidance on the use of blunt-tipped suture needles and “strongly encourage health care professionals in surgical settings to use blunt-tip suture needles to suture muscle and fascia, when clinically appropriate, to reduce the risk of needlestick injury and subsequent pathogen transmission to surgical personnel.”
Were we too far ahead of our time in the late eighties or will FDA’s efforts again flounder on the rocks as surgeons express their preference for sharp needles. Back in twenty years to see.
The FDA document can be found here.