Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SuperGlue to Close Small Wounds

A repost from this blog, circa 2007.

Dog men, construction workers, and midwives know that common off-the-shelf SuperGlue works well to close most small flesh wounds.

Superglue was first used by battle-field trauma surgeons in Vietnam to glue the edges of lacerated livers together (ever try to SEW a liver together?), and to stop bleeding in chest wounds that other wise could not be staunched.

Since then, it's been used in hospitals, dental offices and veterinary clinics around the world, and is now so common as to be unremarkable, though most just-plain-folks don't know about it.

Hospitals tend to use a butyl- or methyl-based version of SuperGlue which is FDA-approved, rather than old-fashioned ethyl-based SuperGlue, but I assure you there is no real difference between the stuff.

The only reason that regular old-fashioned SuperGlue is not FDA-approved is that the chemistry for SuperGlue is now off-patent, and so there is no money to made in going through the very expensive FDA-approval process. For a single dollar, you can get 5 decent tubes of SuperGlue at the Dollar Store (more than enough for a year's worth of rips if you dig on your dogs twice a week all year long), while VetBond (on patent and therefore very expensive) will cost you $15 for a tiny blue squeeze bottle that will fix perhaps two small cuts. Go with the SuperGlue -- it's fine, I assure you.

To glue a wound shut, it's not necessary that it be dry. In fact, SuperGlue works a bit better if the edges are wet, as the goal here is to weld living tissue together so that it will mend. For that, you want clean fresh (i.e. wet and bleeding) edges.

To begin with, flush all dirt and grime out of the wound with fresh water in a squeeze bottle. Once the wound is clean and moist, pull or push the wound closed while you "spot weld" the edges together with SuperGlue. You do not want to put the glue inside the wound -- you are closing up the top, not putting in deep sutures. Repeat your application of glue between the spot welds until the entire thing is closed up.

For deeper or longer gashes, you will will have to reapply the glue in about four days. After that, however, the wound should be sufficiently knitted together to stay closed on its own. Common "flap gashes" knit up very fast with SuperGlue, and I have repaired a dog with 50 cents of SuperGlue which a veterinarian otherwise wanted $1,000 to sew up.

Obviously, very deep traumatic injuries to muscle, tendons, eyes, etc. cannot be fixed with glue, but if it's a simple flesh wound, and is not too deep, it probably can.

SuperGlue has some anti-microbial properties, and the scarring (if any) will be less than if it were sewn together. The bonding strength of SuperGlue glue is equal to a 5-0 monofilament suture.

And where's the cheapest place to buy SuperGlue?  Try your local dollar store where  five tubes will set you back less than the cost of a small order of fries at McDonald's.

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