Mini-Surgical Kit

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Mini-Surgical Kit

Post by ADGibson » Sep 20 2003 8:02 pm

I have been think for a long time about putting together a surgical kit for backpacking. Mostly to do temporary stitches when it's not possible to get to medical help quick enough. Any ideas what I should put into such a kit and where I can find the components to put one together?

What books or video do you recommend to learn to do some of this?

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Post by mttgilbert » Sep 20 2003 11:30 pm

I don't know anything about suturing but I do know that laradas sells individual pre-threaded needles pharmicologically sealed in individual packets. I think the best way to learn would be to make friends with an RN and get them to teach you the basics. Unfortunately I doubt anyone will let you practice on them...

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Post by ADGibson » Sep 21 2003 8:26 pm

I have TWO backpacking buddies that are RNs. Luck me!

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Re: Mini-Surgical Kit

Post by Denny » Sep 22 2003 6:26 am

You should try talking to some of the mountain rescue orientated paramedic teams. Phoenix has them, and most counties have at least a few people trained. Might even be something in those free Army publications.

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Post by Daryl » Sep 22 2003 9:45 am

I wouldn't worry about temporary stitches. In most cases you can control any bleeding with pressure and a wet cloth (t-shirt would work great) and/or bandages. Pack an assortment of bandages, gauze and a roll of coaches tape and you should be able to patch any wound sufficently.

A wound that you couldn't stop the bleeding with just a bandage and pressure would probably be too extreme for a needle and thread anyway.

I'm by no means a medical expert, but I always thought the purpose of stitches was to aid in the healing process. On an emergency on the trail you just want to stop the bleeding and get home.

It is great to see that you want to be prepared though.
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Post by olesma » Sep 22 2003 10:19 am

I'll just agree with Daryl. I've been involved in some pretty heinous trail accidents. One gal eventually needed a total of 38 stitches in 2 layers on two large gashes to get fixed up right. But for the transport out we just used compresses and surgical tape. The doctor said that is the best thing to do. According to him, stitches in the field are a big problem unless you really (read that as licenced to do that type of thing) know what you're doing (read that as licenced to do that type of thing).

That doctor was an expert in field rescue and we talked for a while. He also said that movies like "Rambo: First Blood" where he stitches himself in the field are terribly misleading. 99.999% of all field injuries are in an area where rescue can be accomplished in less than 24 hours (and that includes an individual getting to help, organizing it and getting the individual out). Stitches would only be necessary if you were going to be stuck without medical care for days on end.

He was pretty adamant about the whole thing. At one point I actually asked him if it would be wise for me to learn how to do that sort of thing. He actually laughed and said "Sure, if you really want to go to school to become a licenced nurse or physician. Otherwise you will probably never need that type of skill."

So - stitching in the field - not necessary except in the most extreme of circumstances (like being injured while exploring the Amazon 3 weeks from civilization).

Instead - go get a Red Cross First Aid certification and a CPR certification. Learn the basics of first aid. Then if you get really ambitious, get an EMT certification.

In all of that they never teach you how to do stitches.
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Post by azhiker96 » Sep 22 2003 12:34 pm

I also agree with Daryl. I was trained as an Army Field Medic . None of that training included stitches. In fact, I would bet that if you did stitch up a wound, any decent doctor would cut out those stitches if you subsequently went to get it checked out. He'd have no way of knowing if the wound had been properly cleaned and debred or what other damage may exist below. There are several layers of tissue that could be damaged and could need stitches to heal properly.
Personally, I would purchase some compression bandages, gauze, and medical tape. Also, take a good first aid class so you don't screw things up worse. People can cause damage when they think they are helping. Here's my favorite example. If someone is choking on food and making coughing sounds, don't do a thing! If they are coughing that means air is getting in and out. If you hit them on the back ( a common home remedy ) you stand a good chance of lodging the food deeper in the airway and eliminating their breathing. Then you'd have a real emergency and better hope you know the Heimlich manuver and can apply it effectively. Most people who are coughing are able to dislodge the food by themselves.
Good for you for wanting to be prepared! Although I hope you may never need to use the supplies on yourself, maybe someday you can help someone else!
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Post by pfredricks » Sep 22 2003 1:49 pm

I give you alot of credit for really thinking your packing list thru. Way to be prepared.
I would however agree with the rest. The object of first aid is to first do no harm...then get the patient packaged to go. Most patients can be treated with bandages and tape, then transported to medical treatment facilities for care by trained and qualified physicians.
I suspect even most physicians would just bandage and transport from the field.
There are some excellent books and prepackaged first aid kits availiable out there.
"I'd feel better if we had some crampons. Oh, what the hell, let's go for it..." — Common climbing last words.

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Post by plummer150 » Sep 22 2003 4:56 pm

I suggest a machete with lots of gauze.
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Re: Mini-Surgical Kit

Post by sniffnpiss » Sep 22 2003 6:23 pm

In response to DoFear's reply:
Sutures in the field are almost never recommended. The main thing with wound care is infection. Suturing seals the wound and does not allow for cleaning. Generally speaking small wounds (cuts) should be allowed to bleed for a few minutes(blood is aseptic, contains antibodies) and then clean with soap and water and then bandaged. Larger wounds, as said buy others, controlled with direct pressure and then a pressure dressing applied. The wound should be cleaned with soap and water every 24 hours after, until hard crust forms. You'll have an ugly scare but you won't loose an arm. The scare can be cut out later and repaired when you get back. For small wounds on joints or bad places that keep opening try super glue. Have a safe trip.

PS If you have a good doctor to see before you go get a script for your antibodic of choice, they generally will do it.

I have been a wilderness medic with NASAR for several years.

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Post by ADGibson » Sep 22 2003 7:20 pm

That is my biggest concern is infection of the wound. Cleaning a wound in the outdoors is so hard to do correctly. I think I will abandon this idea and stick with the first aid kit. It's a cool idea to be able to do it though. :D

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