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Soft Tissue Surgery. Scott M. Strayer, MD, MPH Assistant Professor University of Virginia Health System Department of Family Medicine. Case Study.

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soft tissue surgery

Soft Tissue Surgery

Scott M. Strayer, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor

University of Virginia Health System

Department of Family Medicine

case study
Case Study
  • A 50 year old white male presents to your office with a large, dark mole on his back that has been there for several years. He reports that he often fishes on the Chesapeake Bay without his shirt on and has been doing this for years. He reports that the mole has been enlarging. On physical exam you find a very dark mole, approximately 7mm in diameter with an irregular border. How would you approach this lesion?
significance of skin cancer in primary care
Significance of Skin Cancer in Primary Care
  • Expect to encounter 6-7 cases of basal cell cancer annually
  • 1-2 cases of squamous cell cancer
  • 1 case of melanoma
  • Soft tissue surgery is an important skill for family practitioners to learn and practice
  • Identifying lesions for removal and using the proper techniques is critical
  • Knowing when to refer is very important
topics of discussion
Topics of Discussion
  • identifying worrisome lesions
  • removal options (cryotherapy, punch biopsy,shave biopsy, incisional biopsy, and excisional biopsy)
  • excisional techniques (3:1 ratio)
  • suture types
informed consent
Informed Consent
  • Get it.
  • Complications, Indications and Alternatives.
  • Need pre-printed form, plus need a note describing the above.
suture selection
Suture Selection
  • Absorbable (vicryl, dexon, pds) and Non-absorbable types (skin, vascular, orthopedics).
  • Number of “0s” (the more “Os” the smaller the suture.
common suture use
Common Suture Use

Skin (interr.) Skin (subq) Buried Removal


Face 5-0, 6-0 4-0 or 5-0 4-0 or 5-0 4-7 days

nylon prolene synthetic


Extremities,trunk 4-0 or 5-0 3-0 or 4-0 3-0 or 4-0 7-14 days

nylon synth. Abs. Synth. Abs.

needle selection
Needle Selection
  • Cutting-most skin surgery.
  • FS- for skin
  • P, PS, PRE for cosmetic areas
  • Taper-fascia and bowel
  • Blunt-liver and kidney
  • Higher number=smaller needle
  • Use larger needles for deep tissue, smaller needle to close the skin.
  • Lidocaine
  • Epinephrine
  • Location
  • Toxic doses
worrisome lesions
Worrisome Lesions
  • the A, B, C’s of worrisome lesions
  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color variegation
  • Diameter (>6mm)
  • Elevation
  • any lesion which the patient reports is growing, changing, irritating, bleeding, etc.
  • Skin surveys should be done at least yearly on asymptomatic patients, more frequently on patients with histories of skin cancer
removing the lesion
Removing the Lesion
  • Options include punch biopsy, shave biopsy, cryotherapy, incisional biopsy, and excisional biopsy
  • punch biopsies should be reserved for lesions with a low index of suspicion for malignancy
  • cryotherapy should be used on lesions such as seborrheic keratoses, actinic keratoses, and other non-malignant lesions such as plantar warts, molluscum contagiosum, etc.
  • If in doubt use an excisional biopsy
  • Scarring
  • Wound infection
  • Bleeding
main suture techniques
Main Suture Techniques
  • Buried suture
  • Interrupted suture
  • Vertical mattress suture
  • Subcuticular suture
excisional biopsies
Excisional Biopsies
  • Avoid danger areas such as pre-auricular, angle of mandible and posterior cervical triangle
  • plan excision along relaxed skin tension lines
  • use 3:1 ratio and mark site with gentian violet marker
  • use appropriate anesthesia (I.e. no epinephrine on finger tips, nose tip, tip of penis)
  • Wound eversion
  • Evenly distributes tension
  • Dead space closure
  • Good for holding tension (e.g. back)
  • Use on: Posterior neck, concave surfaces
  • Avoid on: Cosmetically sensitive areas
  • Wound eversion
  • Anchoring stitch
  • Fragile skin (e.g. elderly, steroid use)
  • Warnings: Tend to cause scarring and can cause necrosis if too tight, remove after 3-5 days.