September 23rd, 2011
02:06 PM ET

TEDMED: Fixing the brain with super glue

Super glue: It's good for mending shoe insoles and drawer handles, but how about the human body? Don't try this at home, but doctors can actually use the medical-grade version of this material for fixing certain tiny malfunctions in the brain.

Dr. Alejandro Berenstein, professor of radiology, neurology, and neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine the Bronx, New York, has helped pioneer innovative treatments in many areas of medicine such as this one.

As he explains in this TEDMED lecture, super glue can be used in a treatment for a rare condition called vein of Galen malformation (named after ancient Greek physician Galen). Using a microcatheter, a small tube less than 1 millimeter across, the glue is injected to seal off the short circuit between an artery and a vein. Berenstein and colleagues have treated 250 kids with this condition, and in most cases, they’ve successfully returned the children to normal.

Berenstein discussed this and other cutting-edge techniques in the field of vascular medicine at TEDMED in October.

TEDMED is an annual event that brings together dozens of luminaries from a variety of fields to "demonstrate the intersection and connections between all things medical and health care related: from personal health to public health, devices to design and Hollywood to the hospital." TEDMED 2010 took place from October 26 to 29 in San Diego, California.

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Dr Bill Toth

    Way cool!!

    September 23, 2011 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. charls

    Wow, I have heard about it being used to close wounds. Is the super glue absorbed by the body or is it inert and stays forever?

    September 23, 2011 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. dg

    I read years ago that chinese doctors used super glue as a quick safe alternative to surgical va.sec.tom.ies. using a hyp.odermic needle to inject the super glue into the va.ns deferans to prevent the sp*rm from being released.

    September 24, 2011 at 03:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • colleenmf

      When my husband had some skin issues and his hands kept bleeding like small scratches, the doctor told him to use superglue. Stays for a few days and gives teh skin a chance to heal.

      I would not hesitate to use it for small cuts especially when a banndage might come off too easily, like knuckles or elbows or knees. Just bend the joint before applying.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
  4. sam

    and any erratic behavior displayed by patients who receive the treatment can be attributed to the use of krazy glue.

    September 24, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Ben

    Dr. Berenstein treated my daughter for this condition and he saved her life. Her progress over the past 7 years has been phenomenal. This treatment has changed the outcomes of this illness from 97% mortality to 3% mortality. Much thanks to Dr. B and his team!

    September 24, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply


    September 24, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sharp

    I read once that Super Glue was originally developed as a tool for threadless suturing. I wouldn't hesitate to use it to stop bleeding in an emergency.

    September 24, 2011 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. TedT

    Dr. John Pile Spellman (who was with Columbia Presbyterian) was an early pioneer in the use of medical purity “crazy glue” to seal veins (embolization), most often preparatory to invasive cranial surgery. We met him in 1997. At that time, the crazy clue was only available from France and a medical waiver with the FDA was required to import the components. Those who studied under Dr. Pile Spellman are now performing the same procedure at other hospitals.
    – – – – – –
    Typically, a catheter is inserted in the groin, threaded through the heart, through the neck, to the location in the brain. This occurs a day after introduction of medication to dilate the blood vessels to allow passage of the catheter. And the patient is awake during the procedure.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. UK

    We use it to seal wide necked brain aneurysms, and disconnect anomolous arteriovenous connections in the brain and spine and it's been in use for years. I am thinking there is about 500 of us here in the USA who do it and it's not just done in Newyork city. We have expertise available in most large american cities to do this.It is not a crazy glue by any stretch of imagination. It is a cohesive, non adhesive copolymer that hardens like lava upon contact with an aqueous solution eg blood. The key is safe delivery of the agent where you want it and using extreme attention to detail ,to not let it spill elsewhere especially in brain arteries.

    September 25, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. debby

    i have BAD MIRGRAIN when i these they leave scares on my brian. would this for me? i'm willing to try any thing. please answer my question.

    September 26, 2011 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeffrey

      Debby, contact Dr. Berenstein and send him your scans of the problem and he can tell you what you need to do.Good luck

      September 26, 2011 at 04:27 | Report abuse |
  11. maj

    From my grandson's birth until he was 4.5 years of age, Dr. B performed surgeries on his Vein of Galen. Discovery was made prior to birth. My grandson is now wonderful and well.

    Dr. B is a humble man. A warm and caring man. He believes that God gave him a gift and does work miracles.

    We thank you & we love you Dr. B!!!!!!

    April 5, 2013 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. carolinafernando

    Super glue is brand name. It used to combine anything from metal to plastic , but how it can possible for human body?

    April 13, 2018 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
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