This morning I wound up in the dental chair after biting through yet another night guard (yes… life as a veterinarian actually isn’t a stroll through the daffodil field as so many thought!). My dentist was very excited to report that he had come across a new product designed to stop bleeding that he hoped to someday use in his own practice. He mentioned that when he pulls teeth, often times the artery that feeds the tooth bleeds excessively, making smiles far more difficult to muster for everyone involved. For now, the product has only gained FDA approval for use in animals, but the company that makes and markets it hopes to make it available in human medicine soon.
The product is called Vetigel and it is made by a New York-based company called Suneris. It is, in my opinion, and amazing feat of technology that will help save many lives. It is a plant-based polymer that can stop bleeding in about 3 to 5 seconds post-application. The gel can be used internally or externally and works on everything from minor bleeds to major arterial hemorrhage.
For horses, the “Achilles heel” when it comes to bleeding is the artery and vein bundle that runs down either side of the fetlock. It is called the Palmar Digital vein, artery and nerve. If you are one of the unlucky souls who has witnessed a horse bleeding from this area, you know it can be quite gruesome. Even veterinarians cringe when they think of having to locate and ligate a bleeding palmar digital artery. Now that a product like Vetigel is coming to the market, what were once life-threatening sources of blood loss are now reduced to mere minor complications.
The product comes in a single syringe and can be stored at room temperature. There is no preparation necessary or special training required to use it- it is safe and easy. Just open the pack and squirt the contents in the syringe on the bleeding vessel. The product is completely bioabsorbable - there is no need to remove it. The company also makes a solidifying agent that can be applied to the gel once the bleeding has been stopped. The two together can either function as a long-term absorbing bandage, or they can be removed at a later time. Isn’t technology amazing!?
So- how does it work? VETIGEL accelerates the natural hemostasis (blood clotting) cascade by enabling the activation of Factor XII and platelets and adhering to the wound. Both Factor XII and platelets circulate in our blood and are instrumental components in the clotting cascade. This combination creates a million-fold increase in the production of fibrin (kind of like an “emergency patch” for the body, which leads to a rapidly formed blood clot.
The product has a one-year shelf-life and the company is considering offering different size syringes (5 cc and 10 cc) along with different shaped tips for easy application.
As I mentioned, it can be used during surgery or for everyday use on external lacerations. We all know how efficient horses can be in slicing themselves to shreds, so in my opinion, having a product like Vetigel available in our emergency kits is a no-brainer.
The product is coming out on the market soon - ask your veterinarian to look into it and hopefully stock it. Veterinarians who want to receive a free sample can register here. I believe veterinarians, owners and horses will all breathe easier knowing that this product is within reach!