Low-tech zipper plays role in modern surgery

We’ve all used zippers in our daily lives. There are zippers in our clothing, our briefcases, our backpacks, shoes, suitcases, and just about anything else that requires closure.

Now, zippers also provide a cosmetically enhanced, faster way to close surgical incisions, says Rita Altman PA-C of Atlanta Multi-Specialty Surgical Associates in Atlanta.

The Medizip Surgical Zipper, manufactured by Atrax Medical Group in Hamilton, Bermuda, became available in the United States in January 2000, says Christina Kuhn, with Atrax Medical Group.

The surgical zipper is composed of a zipper with two adhesive support strips. The strips are attached on both sides of the surgical incision, then the zipper is closed to draw the edges of the wound together, says Altman. The benefits of the surgical zipper for a day-surgery program include less time in the OR for incision closure. That time savings can decrease costs and improve efficiency, she says.

In a retrospective, unpublished study of patients on whom the Medizip had been used, Altman says they showed a lower infection rate. "I knew that the surgical zipper decreases the time for incision closure to less than two minutes for incisions of any length, but I also discovered that fewer patients suffered postoperative infection at the incision site." The cases reviewed for the study demonstrated a 50% decrease in surgical site infections following the use of the zipper, Altman says.

The decrease in infection makes sense when you consider that the surgical zipper requires no puncture to be made in the skin, Altman explains. Also, there isn’t a foreign body introduced into the skin as there is with staples and sutures. The adhesive sides of the zipper do have small holes to allow drainage, so a patient can see if there is drainage to indicate a possible infection, she adds.

Patients also like the surgical zipper because they do not experience the itching and scarring that staples or sutures may produce, adds Altman.

Although many day-surgery procedures don’t require long incisions, some procedures in which the surgical zipper would be beneficial include hernia repair, scar revision, or cyst removals, says Mitchell S. Roslin, MD, FACS, assistant professor of surgery at the State University of New York in Brooklyn, NY.

"If the skin is aligned properly, the surgical zipper provides the same level of cosmesis as subcuticular stitches in far less time," he says.

Medizip’s prices compare favorably to the prices of many suture kits, says Kuhn. "A 6 cm zipper is approximately $6, and a 12 cm zipper is between $10 and $12," she says.

When looking at costs, surgery program managers need to remember that no additional dressings are required for the zipper and less time is used in the OR closing the wound with the zipper, she points out.

For more information about the Medizip Surgical Zipper, contact:

Mitchell S. Roslin, MD, FACS, Assistant Professor of Surgery, State University of New York, 4802 10th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 12219. E-mail: mroslin@roslin.com.

Atrax Medical Group Ltd., Jardine House, Second Floor, 33-35 Reid St., P.O. Box HM 1434, Hamilton HM FX, Bermuda. Telephone: (441) 296-4120. Fax: (441) 296-4130. E-mail: info@Medizip.com. Web site: www.Medizip.com.