Denis Verwilghen

ScienceShot: Performing Surgery on Your Christmas Turkey

Helen Fields is a freelance science writer based in Washington, D.C.

If you're having turkey for Christmas dinner, be sure to invite a veterinarian. A group of European vets has figured out the best way to sew up a deboned bird. After taking the major bones out of a handful of turkeys and filling them with stuffing, the group tried out four different stitch patterns—arrangements that they use professionally to fix a horse's intestines or sew up a cat after surgery. A fifth turkey got skin staples (shown). The turkey sewed with the simple stitch, akin to that a home cook might try (poking the needle into the skin on one side, then up through the other side) had the most torn skin before cooking. The other three stitch patterns still looked decent after cooking, but when the sutures were removed, a lot of skin and meat came with them. The best-looking turkey, it turned out, was the one that had been stapled. "You will finally be able to impress family and friends with your surgical skills at a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner," the authors conclude in a paper published online today in Veterinary Record. Although they also warn that, while absorbable sutures will be digested if you accidentally leave one behind, a forgotten skin staple could cause problems for your guests' teeth or innards.

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Posted in Plants & Animals