Adjustable Suture Technique


The adjustable suture technique allows for changing the muscle position in the immediate postoperative period while the patient is awake. Therefore, this technique has the theoretical advantage of allowing fine tuning of ocular alignment. Unfortunately, fine tuning must be done within the first 24 to 48 hours of the procedure, when the muscle function has not completely returned and the patient may still have residual effects of anesthesia. Muscle adjustment requires pulling on the muscle and is often uncomfortable for the patient. Another shortcoming of adjustable sutures is the lack of direct scleral fixation and late changes in muscle position. Ludwig and Chow described the association of stretched scar as a cause of late overcorrection after rectus muscle recession.1 (see Prevention of Late Overcorrection on page 148). Alternatively, large recessions (especially on the lateral rectus) can result in an undercorrection, as the muscle will creep forward. For most “normal” rectus muscles, the maximum you can hang back a muscle on an adjustable suture is 6 mm. A “tight” muscle, however, can retract back for large recessions. Because of these concerns, and the success of the fixed suture technique, this author prefers using a fixed suture with direct scleral fixation. It is important to note that throughout the great career of the late Dr. Marshall Parks, he did not use the adjustable suture technique.


Adjustment Procedure Lateral Rectus Muscle Position Needle Holder Traction Suture 
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  1. 1.
    Ludwig I, Chow A. Scar remodeling after strabismus surgery. J AAPOS 2000;4:326–333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wright KW, McVey JH. Conjunctival retraction suture for fornix adjustable strabismus surgery. Arch Ophthalmol 1991;109:138–141.PubMedGoogle Scholar

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