Medical type of Super Glue may replace stitches
CHICAGO (AP) - A medical version of Super Glue is proving superior to stitches in closing many types of wounds.
Gluing wounds shut was faster, less painful and resulted in healed skin that looked just as good, a study of 130 emergency patients found. Also, gluing seems to avert some of the infections that occur in stitched wounds.
The glue eliminates the need for stitch removal, because it sloughs off along with the outer layer of skin after a couple of weeks.
Super Glue's ability to bond skin is well known. The household glue contains a warning that it can instantly stick fingers together, and youngsters occasionally do just that or seal their eyelids shut.
The study of the medical uses of such glue was led by Dr. James Quinn of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and was published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
''This relatively painless and fast method of wound repair can replace the need for suturing several million lacerations a year,'' the researchers said.
The study received financial support from the manufacturer of the glue, Closure Medical Corp. of Raleigh, N.C.
Glues of the type used belong to a group of adhesives called cyanoacrylates, first described in 1949. The glue in the study, octylcyanoacrylate, is new and still experimental but is expected to be approved for U.S. marketing as early as this summer, according to the University of Michigan.
Similar glues called butylcyanoacrylates have been use to repair wounds for years in other countries, including Canada, where the study was conducted at Ottawa General Hospital in Ontario.
Such glues also have been successful in grafting skin, bone and cartilage; repairing eyes; closing dangerously ballooned blood vessels in the abdomen; and stopping spinal-fluid leaks.
The new glue is better than the ones used abroad because it is stronger and more flexible, the researchers said. But it cannot be used on the hands, feet or moist skin areas such as the lips because it will wear off before the wounds heal. Also, it is weaker than stitches.
Doctors in the study repaired wounds by applying the glue to skin on both sides and pressing the skin together for 30 seconds.
Three of the 65 patients whose wounds were glued shut had to be glued again when the wounds broke open; only one of the 67 stitched patients had to be stitched again. (Some patients had multiple wounds and were both glued and stitched.) Wound reopenings all were successfully repaired. The only other complication was an infection in a stitched patient.
An expert not associated with the research or the manufacturer predicted wide acceptance of medical super glues.
''It is not too far-fetched to speculate that these products might eventually become available for home use,'' said Dr. Alexander T. Trott of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.