Surgical needle sharpness

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      We developed a standard reproducible test to determine surgical needle sharpness. This parameter was measured by recording the maximum force required to push a curved surgical needle through a thin laminated synthetic membrane. Three comparable groups of reversed cutting-edge needles were selected from different manufacturers for needle penetration testing. The results of this testing demonstrated that the needle diameter, manufacturing process, and the manufacturer were all important determinants of needle sharpness. Needles with a smaller diameter were sharper than those with a larger diameter. In addition, electrohoned or handhoned needles were sharper than those subjected to only machine grinding. When comparably sized needles were compared, Ethicon manufactured the sharpest needles, followed by Davis & Geck and Deknatel needles.
      Scanning electron microscopic photographs and elemental analysis of the surgical needles could be correlated with their sharpness. The sharper needles had long, narrow cutting edge geometries compared with the short wide geometries of duller needles. The sharpest needles were fabricated from an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) 45500 stainless steel alloy that has stronger tensile and yield strengths than those of ASTM 42000 and 42020 alloys used in the creation of the other needles. This stronger alloy allows the manufacturer to produce a longer, narrower cutting point geometry with reduced danger of either bending or breakage during surgery compared with needles made from weaker alloys (ASTM 42000 and ASTM 42020), which accounts for the superior sharpness of the Ethicon surgical needles.
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        Considerations in the choice of surgical needles.
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