Cyanoacrylate products are the main form of high-strength surgical glue that is approved for human clinical use in the worldwide market. A number of new materials are under development for internal use in particular, but these represent new chemical entities and their commercialization is likely to be delayed by regulatory requirements. Sutures will be replaced by cyanoacrylate glues in many procedures over the next 10 years but these adhesives do not represent the ideal alternative to suturing. Cyanoacrylate glues used for external skin closure are approximately five times less strong than sutures, and cyanoacrylates produce cytotoxic compounds as part of the curing process when used for securing torn or excised tissue. This has delayed the development and clinical evaluation of these potentially useful materials for internal surgical procedures. However, cyanoacrylate glues are marketed actively by a number of companies for topical wound closure in accident/emergency situations and in surgical closure.
Use of cyanoacrylate glues for closure has established a considerable following in all regions of the world. Conservative accident and emergency costs for closure of a small bleeding trauma laceration with sutures, local anesthetic, antibiotic cream and suture removal kit are approximately $75 (before labor and time are included). Cyanoacrylate products can be used without anesthetic, without sutures, and since cyanoacrylate sloughs off the skin surface, without a removal kit. The FDA has approved cyanoacrylate products as having an anti-microbial outcome, which further reduces the cost of using them to approximately 30% of using sutures. Once labor and time are added this falls to 5%. Historically, closure of surgical incisions has been achieved through an ever-evolving portfolio of suture, staple and tape products. In the early 1990s, physicians involved in sports medicine were the first non-military practitioners to adopt cyanoacrylate glues to achieve immediate closure of small cuts and lacerations, and an awareness of this opportunity developed in large multinational manufacturers of sutures and staples. Joint development efforts were commenced at Davis and Geck/U.S. Surgical (now Covidien), and Ethicon (subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), and in a number of companies manufacturing cyanoacrylates, which ultimately resulted in topical cyanoacrylate closure products being launched around the world during the 1990s.