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Body Watch : Fixing Cuts May Become Sticky Situations : Medicine: Would you believe glue to repair wounds? Researchers find that a medical adhesive heals hurts quicker and with fewer tears.

August 29, 1995|PAUL ARNOLD | THE WASHINGTON POST

It is a parent's dream come true: a medically prepared glue that is painless and as effective as stitches in repairing small, non-jagged cuts.

Repairing a wound with stitches can be a traumatic experience for both child and parent. The mere sight of a suture needle can quickly send some children into a fearful and tearful tizzy. The process often requires the child to be sedated, firmly restrained or both.

Until recently this was the only way doctors had to repair wounds. But new studies on tissue adhesives, presented at the Ambulatory Pediatric Assn.'s recent convention, suggest that doctors may soon have an alternative treatment. Researchers found that they could repair wounds faster and with fewer tears by applying a tissue adhesive, Histoacryl Blue (HAB), to wounds instead of using common sutures.

HAB, manufactured by Braun Medical Ltd., has been used in the United States for many years in dentistry, facial plastic surgery and ophthalmologic surgery. Its manufacturer has not yet applied for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for its use in repairing cuts and lacerations.

HAB will never completely replace conventional sutures. Even in Canada, where it is the primary means of closing small wounds, HAB is not used for repairing cuts to moist or mobile body parts.

The first American study of HAB use in emergency-room repair of children's minor cuts and lacerations was recently completed at Egleston Children's Hospital at Emory University in Atlanta.

"We had very positive results from both parents and children," says Dr. Harold Simon, a pediatrician and research investigator at Egleston. "Basically, it lessened the pain the children experienced and improved parental satisfaction regarding their child's discomfort."

During the six-month Egleston study, 61 children were randomly selected to receive regular skin sutures or HAB. It took doctors an average of 17 minutes to repair cuts with stitches, as compared with seven minutes with HAB. Using the tissue adhesive also saves doctors time later because the adhesive peels off in five to eight days and does not require a return visit to the doctor.

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