Kids MD - Staples (ER Story)

Staples (ER Story)

Collin Siedor | CWK Network

"Watch for redness, fever, pus; if any of that happens, call your doctor. Otherwise use a little antibiotic cream on the area and keep it clean."
- Dr. Kathleen Nelson, Professor of Pediatrics -

There are a million ways kids can get cut or a gash and then end up in the emergency room, needing stitches. Sometimes the accident is hard to predict and sometimes what's best isn't stitches at all.

In the emergency room, Dr. Kathleen Nelson examines the scalp of an 8-year-old boy.

"There's a little bit of swelling around the cut but it looks nice and clean and the sides are together pretty well," she says.

Damon King explains that he was taking a bath, stuck his head under the faucet, and then jerked his head back and cut his scalp. It's a small wound but it's bleeding and has to be closed.

"We could close this cut with stitches or with staples," Dr. Nelson explains, "but I think we're going to do it with staples because it's faster."

The emergency room physician, Dr. Michael Paserrella, comes in to clean the wound and show Damon the stapler, which looks similar to an ordinary stapler. "See little thing here, " he says, "I'm just going to push down on this and that little staple is just going to go in. It's going to be real quick, you probably won't even feel it, ok."

Dr. Nelson add that staples are faster, easier, and a week later easier to remove but can't be used everywhere.

"You wouldn't put it on areas that are getting a lot of wear and tear and bending… for example, on the elbow or the knee," she says.

Further, recent research has shown that it is safer to put in the staples, or stitches for that matter, without shaving the boy's head.

Dr. Nelson says, "Recently, we found that there is a little more infection as the site of the stitches if the head is shaved, so leaving the hair in tact seem to leave more barriers to infection."

In just a matter of a couple of minutes, the doctor puts in the staples and it's done. Damon gets to go home. His mom just has to watch out for infection.

"With infection, you'll see redness, like an angry color red, swelling, tenderness, fever, of course, and any kind of drainage or pus," Dr. Paserrella says.

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