Super Glue -- a medical miracle?

Hey, Matt:

During my many years as a mechanic, I learned many handy tricks. One thing I always have in stock is Super Glue, which I've found a thousand and one uses for. I regularly use the stuff to close a wound when I cut myself. This lets me get right back to work, and I never have had a cut get infected. Despite this, my wife insists I'm going to cause myself grave harm. Could the glue be marketed as a super salve for busy working men?

-- Mike the Mechanic, Lakeside

And you don't tend to glue yourself to mufflers or accidentally attach spark plugs to your fingers? The elves aren't allowed to play with glue after they stuck the neighbors dogs together. Anyway, a form of Super Glue is already marketed to dentists, veterinarians, and hospitals for use in ERs and ORs as a replacement for sutures in certain procedures. It was first used widely by medics in Vietnam to stop bleeding and buy some time to get the wounded to field hospitals.

Super Glue is 2-ethyl-cyanoacrylate. The hospital version is a gentler, more tissue-friendly monomer, 2-octyl-cyanoacrylate. But there are many reports of doctors using the household version in a pinch, with no ugly side effects. The biggest caveats seem to be: clean the wound thoroughly so you don't seal in germs; and don't use the stuff on deep cuts or get the glue on tissue below skin level. This could prevent healing. No manufacturer of household glues will ever say it's okay to use the product this way. When it's suggested, they run screaming and hide in their lawyers' offices. But for busy executives brought down by paper cuts, why not?

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