Resistance forces acting on suture needles

T. B. Frick, D. D. Marucci, J. A. Cartmill, C. J. Martin, W. R. Walsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the resistance forces encountered by a suture needle during tissue penetration is important for the development of robotic surgical devices and virtual reality surgical simulators. Tensile forces applied to skin and tendon during suturing were measured. Fresh sheep achilles tendons were tensioned with a static load 4.9N, 9.8N or 19.6N and sheepskin with 0.98N, 2.9N or 4.9N static load. A straight 2/0 cutting suture needle in series with a load cell on a materials testing machine penetrated the tissue at 90° with a velocity of 1, 5 or 10mm/s for each tissue tension (n=5). Continuous load versus displacement data was obtained and penetration load and stiffness were noted. The load versus displacement curve for skin during needle penetration demonstrated two characteristic peaks, corresponding to initial penetration and emergence of needle from the undersurface of the tissue. Increasing the tension within the tissue (skin and tendon) increased the amount of force required to penetrate the tissue with a suture needle (p<0.05). Needle displacement rate did not affect the resistance to needle penetration (p<0.05). This study provides a simple model for measuring force-feedback during needle penetration of soft tissues and is a good starting point for future studies of the penetration resistance properties of human tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1340
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Force
  • Mechanical properties
  • Penetration
  • Soft tissues
  • Suture needle


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