Adhesives and adhesive tape
Adhesives are substances that hold the surfaces of materials together, often permanently. Natural adhesives (of plant or animal origin), synthetic (artificially produced) adhesives, and combinations of the two can be categorized according to whether they are activated by heat and whether they form rigid or stretchy bonds.
Adhesives were first used medically in bandages invented by the German pharmacist Paul Beiersdorf in 1882. Epoxy resins (fibers softened by heating) were developed in the 1950s. These resins permitted the bonding of materials such as glass and metal that earlier adhesives failed to hold together. Superglue is a modern example of very strong adhesive that sets in seconds and works on many different materials. Users sometimes find that this liquid adhesive works too well, since it can cause skin to stick together.
Used to Repair Cuts
Widely used in everyday applications, adhesives are rapidly finding their way into medicine. Adhesives are used as replacements for sutures (stitches) and surgical staples. One tissue adhesive, Histoacryl Blue (also known as "HAB"), is used in Canada to repair small wounds, but not moist cuts or parts of the body that move. HAB has impressed doctors in one American study because children's lacerations (cuts) could be repaired more quickly than wounds could be sutured (17 minutes to suture a wound versus 7 minutes to glue it with HAB). Another plus is that the adhesive peels off by itself in several days, so the repair does not require the patient to return to the doctor's office to get sutures removed.
Superglues are also being used experimentally for eye surgery. Adhesives in the medical setting may be especially valuable in microsurgeries (operations done under a microscope or other magnifying lenses). Two natural-based adhesives, one made from blood-clotting compounds and another from mussels, are currently being tested in Europe and the United States.