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Wounds Syringing

Sources: 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. T
e 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