Horse Hair Sutures


Through history, various types of thread or materials have been used to close wounds.  One of these was horse hair.  The reason is simply it was long, sturdy, and for much of medical history easily available. 

During the 19th century, horse hair sutures were preferred by many surgeons because it appeared to create fewer infections. What they could not have known until that advent of the Germ Theory of disease was by boiling the animal hair sutures to make them more pliable, they were, in fact, sterilizing them.

Story Associated with Item

Our sample of horse hair sutures dates from  the early 20th Century. By the 1930’s its use was declining as other forms of artificial material was replace the usual silk and cotton sutures. The sample in the Talbot Museum was produced commercially by Johnson and Johnson, a firm that still makes medical supplies.  

Location in Museum

Medicine in the New South Exhibit case


Early 20th Century
  • Horse Hair Sutures 01
  • Horse Hair Sutures 03
  • Horse Hair Sutures 02