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November 6, 1943


JAMA. 1943;123(10):637. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.02840450039013

The irritant effect of catgut on living tissues has been commented on in a previous editorial1 in The Journal. The clinical experience of Halstead, Jenkins, Kraissl, Whipple and others and the experimental demonstration by Meleney stress this undesirable effect of surgical gut as compared with some of the nonabsorbable suture materials. These observers believed that the irritating effect was due to the catgut per se. Halstead believed that buried catgut serves as culture medium for saprophytic organisms which are carried into it from the deep epithelium and the follicles of the skin. Kraissl demonstrated the possibility of an allergic reaction to catgut in a patient with edema of the edges and disruption of the abdominal wall. The irritant effect manifests itself in the wound by induration, redness, serum formation, lowered tissue resistance with increased susceptibility to infection from organisms introduced at operation or from the blood stream, and retardation