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Source: Papers On Health
Very great good can often be done by a little
careful syringing of internal wounds. Take, as an illustration, a case
of a kind we have often seen. It is that of a young patient with a
wound on the lower part of the leg, a good long way below the knee.
This wound will run in spite of all that has been done to dry it up.
The opening in it is very small, and one would think it ought to be
easily cured, but it is not so. The truth is that this wound is from
two to three inches distant from where the real sore is situated in the
limb. The wound is well down towards the ankle; the real sore is well
up towards the knee. There is a corroding matter generated in the
internal sore, and that runs down under the skin, and keeps cutting its
way out at the wound. Until this is rectified, there will be no
successful healing. Ointments that might do well enough on a small
external sore have no effect in this case. The real sore, however, is
easily reached and cured by the right use of a small pointed syringe.
The kind most easily procured is made of glass, and costs about
sixpence. Choose one that has a small smooth point, which can be easily
inserted into the hole in the wound. This should be done without
causing any pain. The point of the syringe should be dipped in hot
water till it is as near as possible to blood heat: that is, it should
neither be hotter nor colder than the skin it has to touch. If you are
sufficiently careful on this point, all else will be comparatively
Before you actually try to insert the syringe, observe in what
direction the wound is likely to be extended under the skin. It will
probably be upwards--almost certainly it will be so, as the waste
matter, by its weight, tends to fall down. The sore at the top
insertion of a muscle near the knee will send its matter down the leg,
perhaps near to the ankle. Fill the syringe with warm water only, as
near blood heat as you can have it. When you have got the point of the
syringe even a very little way into the wound, you can inject a little
water, and in doing this you will probably learn more nearly where the
actual sore is to be found. The water will probably come out as fast as
you send it in, but it may not come till a good quantity has gone in.
Now, as you fill your syringe a second time with water at the same
degree of heat, you will add a single drop of strong acetic acid, or
twelve drops of white vinegar to a teacupful. You must be careful that
this is not exceeded at this stage, or you will cause great pain.
Moreover, you do no good to the sore by making the acid so strong as to
cause suffering. If it is only just so strong as to cause a comfortable
feeling of warmth, it will be all right for its curative purpose. Even
very weak acid combines with the irritating waste matter that is
keeping the sore diseased, and produces the desired healing effect. You
have only to add one drop after another of the acid to your full
teacupful of warm water, till the feeling produced by the syringing is
all that could be desired. In the case of the limb that we refer to, a
sensible mother used the syringe and the acid so skilfully as to heal
the internal sore in a very short time, and thus the external wound
quickly disappeared. Of course, if the wound is so very deep that the
acid cannot be got up to cleanse it thoroughly, surgical aid should be
It may be well, however, to take another case or two for further
illustration. Here, then, is a decayed tooth extracted, but the part
from which it is taken does not heal, as is usual. The hole in the gum
does not close, and a discharge of offensive humour flows from it
constantly. The bone of the upper jaw is evidently wasting, and the
decay has extended somehow considerably up the side of the nose. The
hole, however, is so small, that the usual glass syringe cannot enter
it. We got an exceedingly small instrument, used for the injection of
morphia under the skin. The point of this syringe is a needle with a
point that is hollow nearly to the very end. When this point was broken
off, the hollow part was so small that it entered the hole in the gum,
and so it was easy to inject the weak acid up to the bottom of the
sore, which had come to be only a little under the eye. About an inch
and a half of hollow had to be washed out with the acid. But in a very
short time all discharge ceased, and the cure was perfect. Both of
these cases are comparatively simple, but they show clearly the great
value of this use of acetic acid.
Carbolic acid is much more commonly used for such a purpose. It has the
drawback of being liable itself to melt away the healthy tissue, and to
make a wound larger. Acetic acid never does this, and so heals more
quickly and certainly.
We might take a much more difficult case. It was that of an abscess and
bad sore in the lower bowels. It was supposed to be necessary to
perform a very dangerous operation in order to try to cure this--not
much hope was held out of its being possible really to cure. It was,
however, quite possible to reach the sore by the injection of acetic
acid. The sufferer was directed to have this done regularly. In a very
short time there was a complete cure. In such a case all that is wanted
is an ordinary india-rubber enema. A much larger quantity of water is
required, but about the same strength of acid. First of all, as much
acidulated water as can be taken up with comfort is injected: after a
minute or so this is passed off. Then another is used in the same way,
and passed off also. A third syringing may be employed, when about
half-a-teacupful is taken and retained. If the acid gives no
comfortable feeling of warmth it needs to be strengthened till it does
so, but not so that it produces any pain. The operation really well
done is not in the least painful, but, on the contrary, rather
There is still one syringing which we may notice--that of suppurating
ears. If an ear is discharging from some internal sore, nothing is more
important than syringing with acetic acid, but it must be done with
very peculiar care. The water used should be as nearly as possible of
exact blood heat, and the acetic acid of the exact strength at which it
will give a fine comfortable feeling in the ear. It must neither feel
as if it were a mere wetting of the ear, nor that it gives the least
pain. The syringe, too, must be used gently, so as not to force the
water strongly against the internal parts that are so tender. It is a
soaking operation rather than a forcible urging of the water into the
ear which is wanted. If this is nicely done, say twice a day, the acid
will reach the sore, and we may confidently look for a cure. Even when
the bones are wasting, as we have seen in the case of the upper jaw, if
this acid can be really brought to bear upon the sore, it will be
cleansed and healed. In this simple way we have seen many, both old and
young, delivered from sore trial, and made to enjoy life and health
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