Glue instead of stitches
May 16, 2012 Leave a comment
My son Alex took a nasty fall on our deck while running around in the rain the other day (alas, one of his favorite activities). We thought he had made a hole completely through his lower lip and was going to require stitches. Since Alex’s special needs and history with medical treatments and dentists suggested he was not exactly going to cooperate with that, we left the (affordable) Urgent Care when they said he’d need stitches for the (oh-my-god that much just for some medical glue!) Emergency room next door, where they could sedate Alex, if necessary. Turns out, the urgent care was a little too ready to get rid of Alex and his special needs. He cooperated wonderfully at the ER and only needed some glue to close the would just below his lower lip. Nothing to be done for the giant gashes on the inside (which you can see in all their glory below).
Anyway, I was relating the story to my dad and he had no idea that it was now quite common to use glue instead of stitches. Now, in my childhood it was all stitches, but as a parent my kids have been glued many times and rarely stitched. A little googling and I discovered that this approach took off just in time for my experience with lacerated children– the late 90′s (David was born in 1999). Here’s a NYT story from 1997:
THROUGH the ages, a wide range of materials have been used to close deep cuts and other wounds, including cobwebs, the jaws of leaf-cutting insects and, in modern medicine, stitches and staples. But now another material is showing promise: glue.
Rather than put patients through the long, painful ordeal of sewing their wounds and in many cases removing the stitches a week or so later, doctors are finding that they can simply glue the edges together and send their patients home. The adhesives being used are chemical relatives of the kinds of glue found in factories as well as around the house, but they have been sterilized and modified for medical purposes.
Several recent studies involving children and adults show that certain wounds closed with glue heal just as well as those closed with stitches, and that the cosmetic results up to a year later are comparable. In the newest study, doctors were so pleased with one kind of medical glue that they predicted that it could replace stitches for about one-third of the 11 million wounds treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States each year. The study is being published in today’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
So, there you go. As I said, Alex cooperated beautifully while he was glued. Not sure that would have been so much the case with somebody pulling a needle and thread through his skin.