By G. J. Goubeaud, D.V.S., FlushTng, L. I.
About eight years ago I read an article in the Therapeutic Gazette, a journal published in Chicago, devoted to human medicine, in which the author advocated the employment of iodine and chloroform for disinfection of wounds before suturing them.
I have mislaid this article, otherwise I would give the author credit for it.
It appears that this human physician was employed by a firm which had a very large number of employees in a manufacturing establishment, and the cases of injury were numerous. Persons who were injured had in a large number of cases lacerated and contused wounds. All of these wounds were filled with grease and foreign matter, and the result was that no matter how much he would attempt to thoroughly wash the wounds and remove the extraneous material, his efforts were unsuccessful, and healing took place by pus-formation. We all know how difficult it is to thoroughly clean a lacerated or contused wound, and we know perfectly the difficulties that this physician had to contend with in his efforts to secure healing by first intention and also to lessen the number of complications. He employed iodine crystals in a chloroform solution. The results which he reported were most gratifying, and I felt that if he were successful there was no reason why I should not be.
The wounds from which animals suffer are no exception to those of the human body. We have the same conditions to contend with in so far as regards dirt and filth gaining entrance into them, and I, theretofore, decided to give this treatment a trial, and to say the least the results were most pleasing. I have seen wounds which were a combination of laceration and contusion, muscles torn and skin ragged; the exposed structures filled with dirt, grease and other foreign matter, and I applied iodine solution after as much foreign matter as it was possible to remove had been removed; thoroughly dried the wound with absorbent cotton and then applied again liberally the iodine solution. The only antiseptic that was employed later on was a weakened solution of the iodine, and I wish to state here that the results have been uniformly successful. The wounds healed most rapidly and there was usually no pus-formation, and when this did occur, the injection of iodine in mild solution caused the clearing up of the wound.
Large wounds that would ordinarily take from a month to sixweeks, if not longer, to heal so that the animal would be able to work, now heal in from ten to twenty days.
Ulcerating wounds and those wounds and sores caused by collar and saddle galls and bruises heal most rapidly after the application of iodine.
I am the veterinarian for the First Cavalry, National Guard, New York, and during the maneuvers it was common for me to dress twice a day, sometimes more often, from 50 to 150 sore backs, withers and forearms. These wounds were caused by the saddle or girth, large stick-fasts resulted, which in some cases were so severe as to incapacitate about 50 per cent, of these horses for further work. Those who have had any dealings with pack animals know to what extent these wounds will incapacitate an animal, and they also known too well the complications.
At our annual maneuvers the only thing I dreaded was the wounds caused by saddle and girth, and I knew that for two or three months after some of these cases would have to be seen and treated daily. The various lotions, sedatives, antiseptics and healing powders were employed, but they were not only in some cases of no use, but in a very large number of cases they aggravated the condition to such an extent that I believe a large number would have recovered if only plain water were employed. I believe that some of these healing powders which were employed by me made the wounds at least ten times worse and larger than they would have been had I not employed them.
After reading this article I determined to try iodine and iodized vaseline, and I am happy to state that the maneuvers have no more terrors for me. It is rare that we have a wound that does not heal and leave no evidence of its existence within ten days after its infliction. Iodine now in the regiment must be in each medicine chest for each individual troop, and upon the first evidence of chafe this agent is immediately applied. When his subject is first looked at, the application of iodine in chloroform, or the simple tincture as I now employ, appears to be heroic.
The idea of painting over and saturating thoroughly a wound, adding foreign bodies to a wound, and applying an agent as powerful as iodine seems to be very very drastic. We are all taught that foreign material must be removed from cell structure before union will take place and that the application of any foreign matter will prevent healing, and union by first intention will not take place, but, let us not discourse upon what we think in the matter, but apply iodine thoroughly to a wound, suture it, if necessary, use little or preferably no water, and note the result.
I have had a wound 18 inches long, lacerated and contused, filled with foreign matter, painted with tincture of iodine, sutured and dressed with tincture of iodine daily. The wound healed rapidly, no pus-formation took place, and the animal was placed to work exactly fourteen days after the accident occurred.
It is not my intention to discuss the physiological results of this agent, but simply to present a practical paper to you for your consideration.
Any kind of a wound, no matter where, paint it with iodine, and if upon the foot, which will have to be protected, place absorbent cotton and bandage upon the same, leave the animal alone, and note the rapidity with which healing takes place.
In this locality where my practice is, tetanus is one of the commonest affections that I know of. A case in point might serve to bring out the beauties and good effects of iodine when properly employed.
Septicemia and tetanus will not occur if this agent is employed liberally to wounded or abraided surfaces.
This case will serve to illustrate it.
A client of mine had a horse that stepped upon the sharp point of a harrow. The prong entered the point of the frog and came out below the fleshy part of the heel. There was an abundance of dirt in this wound. The animal bled profusely and the frog was almost half torn from its sensitive structure. A canal extended from point of frog to the fetlock. My probe could feel sand and dirt in this opening—I flushed this canal thoroughly with tincture of iodine, applied an absorbent cotton compress and injected the animal with 1,500 units tetanus anti-toxin. The driver of this horse, in his efforts to remove the harrow, stepped upon one of its teeth and punctured the sole of his foot. This man gave the wound such attention as he deemed necessary and went on about performing his labor. Seven days afterwards this horse was put to work, and exactly twelve days afterwards this man died from lockjaw in the Flushing Hospital.
This is not an exceptional case, but it might be well to state that I had a similar case in which the animal ran away and fractured the of corona of left hind leg, and had a slight lacerated wound upon the right knee. The fractured pastern was placed in plaster of paris, the wound which was filled with dirt from the hothouse beds had been washed thoroughly, then dried, and iodine applied twice a day. The workman, who was a foreigner, was arranging the sash in this hothouse and he cut his foot. Little or no attention was paid to it. Two months afterwards the injured horse was put to work. Fifteen days after the accident to the horse and also the accident to the man, the man developed tetanus and died. It might also be well for me to state that I have yet to have a case of tetanus result from a wound in which I was called upon to attend after I first saw it.
I attribute my success to the employment of iodine, and whenever I deem it necessary, tetanus anti-toxin is also injected.
* Read before the Veterinary Medical Association of New York City, June, 1915
Source: Journal, Volume 47, American Veterinary Association