In This Issue...
F.I.D.O.: Daniel Annanack
F.I.D.O.: Mark Brazeau and Qimmiit Utirtut
Wolf Problems in Kuujjuaq
Inuit Dogs of Mawson Station
Differences in Mushing: Greenland and Arctic Canada, Part II
Inuit Produced Information Resources
In the News
Book Review: 1000 Days with Sirius
Product Review: 3M™ Precise Skin Stapler
IMHO: A Time for Action
Navigating This Site
3M™ Precise DS-15 Disposable Skin Stapler
reviewed by Sue Hamilton
Little did I realize when I began my career in animal medicine that those thirty years experience in surgical incision and wound closure would come in so very handy to me as a dog owner, especially as an Inuit Dog owner! ISD owners know that these dogs can be the best of buddies for most of the time and then get into a really good dust-up only to be separated wearing broad and bloody grins on their faces, and then go back to being good friends as if their disagreement never happened. Oh well. For all the ferocity of some of the brawls we've experienced, there has been surprisingly little damage. (Your results may vary.) Blood always looks more alarming when it is diluted in copious amounts of saliva and smeared liberally about the body. Occasionally however, a dog may end up with more than a scrape, bruise or puncture wound, and uncomplicated tears in the outer layer of the skin with no real damage below that layer may be candidates for "home repair". I say this with a good deal of caution to readers as I want to make it abundantly clear that doing your own skin suturing must not be attempted unless you are skilled and confident in assessing the extent of the injury and in performing wound closure. This cannot be overstated!
There were a lot of scientific advancements during my three decades on the job. In the old days (Gee, that's painful to say.) we used strand suture material, and the best of that kind (there were dozens and dozens of varieties) for skin closure was monofilament nylon with a swaged on needle - a half moon shaped sharp pointed, sharp edged needle with eighteen inches of single strand nylon attached to one end (not something you have to thread). But I've long since abandoned the use of nylon suture for wound closure in favor of surgical staples. Although not ideal for all wounds, there are many great advantages of skin staplers over traditional suture material: much shorter learning curve to use, ease and speed of use, wound closure is less stressful for the (awake) patient, less chance for additional wound contamination, easier to see and remove.
My instrument of choice is the 3M™ Precise DS-15 Disposable Skin Stapler. There are a number of manufacturers and styles of skin staplers (and sizes of staples, too), but I favor this one because it is of a simple design that has never failed to operate properly and is small and easy to pack for the trail. The smallness is not only good for space saving, but it allows you to work in close. That's sort of hard to explain and, as it is not my intention to make this article into a "how to" session (that's for a health professional to do with you in person), you'll have to take it on faith that the shorter distance between the "business end" of this little device and the hand that holds it is a real advantage, especially when the patient is a hysterical dog and or you do not have a helper to provide ideal restraint.
Actually these staplers come in different "sizes". Physically, the dimensions are about the same and vary only by the number of staples each holds: 5, 15 and 25 (although there are wider staples which are not needed for our application). I've only used five staples at one session when I've missed a moving target or accidentally stapled my palm partially closed. (Might as well mention here the only disadvantage I can think of for this brand stapler. In the cold and the dark, when the beam of your head lamp needs to remain on the dog, and in the emotional turmoil of separating fighting dogs and treating injuries, one may accidentally hold the stapler in the wrong direction, since the device is sort of symmetrical in feel and appearance - at least it was to me when I threw a perfect staple into my ungloved hand. This is more of an operator malfunction that a design disadvantage, however.) The balance of a twenty-five staple load seems to be too much for me to have hanging around for such a long time, so the fifteen-load stapler seems just right. One fifteen-staple device lasts plenty long enough as we don't have many fights requiring wound closure. Your needs may be different.
Each stapler comes in an individually sterilized package. After use, it will be contaminated with blood and maybe some hair. What I do is wipe off the obvious stuff, douse the entire stapler with 70% isopropyl alcohol, let it dry and then return it to its package. I choose to treat wounds contaminated by teeth or alcohol "sterilized" staples with topical and or orally administered antibiotics. Veterinarians would cringe to read this. And if you prefer, you can throw away the unused portion of your stapler and start fresh for every event. Given their cost, however, you may prefer to buy the stapler packing only five staples if you are going to do that.
I am very pleased with Med-Plus Medical Supply as a supplier of the 3M™ Precise DS-15 Disposable Skin Stapler. Their only drawback is that you must buy a box of twelve staplers. That's not only a big one-time purchase but also more than I hope or expect to use in a lifetime. However, cruising around the web looking at other sources and other brands, bulk purchase is definitely cheaper per unit and I suggest that mushers may want to share an order. In fact, if anyone wants some of the twelve units I just bought, let me know and you can buy some for what they cost me, plus shipping to you. Oh, one more thing, you'll absolutely need a special device to remove those staples. Med-Plus Medical Supply has those too and the good news is that they can be purchased by the each. Although described as disposable, they don't have to be tossed out, as does the empty stapler.
It bears repeating, before you consider going down this road, that you have a friendly chat with your vet to make sure you have his or her support and that you learn how to assess wounds to determine if they are within your capability to treat.
Here's the order information:
3M™ Precise DS-15 Disposable Skin Stapler, #G-TMDS-15; 15 Staples per unit, 12 units per box; $113.00 and, depending on where you live, shipping is free.
3M™ Precise™ Disposable Skin Staple Remover, #G-3MSR1; $6.20 each plus shipping.
Med-Plus Medical Supply
Is there a useful product you'd like to tell everyone about? Email your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail-mail it to Mark Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, USA.