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Surgeon Uses Zipper Instead of Stitches

November 6, 1986

BOSTON (AP) _ A surgeon confronted with the problem of frequently opening and shutting abdominal incisions turned to the obvious solution: a zipper.

But at least one zippermaker takes a dim view of that substitute for stitches.

The controversy was aired in the letters pages of today’s New England Journal of Medicine. Bernard J. Rubin, an official of YKK in Macon, Ga., wrote, ″It has recently come to our attention that at least one physician is using our zippers to close surgical incisions.″

Rubin’s letter - headlined ″If You Snip, Don’t Zip 3/8″ - went on to point out that his company’s zippers aren’t designed for medical purposes. During the manufacturing process, they come in contact with lubricants, detergents and other common chemicals.

″Illness or injury may result if this product is used for surgical purposes,″ he cautioned. ″We cannot be responsible for any injury caused by such use, and we disclaim any warranty, expressed or implied, in connection with medical use of our products.″

The journal referred the letter to Dr. H. Harlan Stone of the University of Maryland. In a one-paragraph response, he wrote:

″The use of the zipper has greatly facilitated re-examination of the abdomen when it is required on an almost daily basis. We have tried many different zippers over the past few years. Our initial studies used the YKK, but at present we prefer the Talon, since it is less likely to disengage spontaneously and lead to evisceration.″

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