Adhesives and sealants have been in use since time immemorial. Some of the earliest sealants were extracted from sources or processed from products like latex and animal proteins. However, technological development in the modern world has brought about new ways of formulating these adhesives and sealants. The chemical and synthetic manufacturing of these products with process equipment has allowed the necessary development as demand in the market has increased. Sealants and adhesives have now been significantly adopted by the medical industry for use in the surgical department to close wounds.

The use of adhesives and sealants in the medical industry has had a notable impact in that the capability for wound management and surgical purposes is progressively being unveiled as these two industries continue to develop.


Sealants can either be fibrin-based, thrombin-based, collagen-based, or gelatin-based. The most commonly used sealant in the medical industry is the fibrin. In the United States, it has been primarily adopted by doctors for orthopedic surgeries. Its penetration rate is quite efficient, and it is believed to be between 25-30%. However, fibrin sealants are not as effective under wet surgical conditions because its penetration rate is significantly reduced by an estimated range of between 10% to 15%. The demand of sealants has tremendously increased in the modern medical market. This has been instigated by the fact that most sealants improve bio-compatibility and have a powerful sealing ability. Thus, they meet the needs of most users including doctors.

Sealants are also classified by their physical form:

One-component sealants - These sealants are packed in a cartridge and require no specialized equipment in their application.

Two-component sealants - As the name suggests, it comprises of two parts, a base component, and an activator component. The two are mixed for a specified period, packaged, and then used as high-solid components.

Sealant tapes - These tapes are used as sealants on a flexible support. They come in handy in the cases of external wounds. They include butyl tapes, silicone tapes, and urethane tapes.

Though used together in the medical sector, sealants are lower in strength but higher in elongation compared to adhesives. Sealants contain inert filler material formulated with elastomer to give the desired flexibility and elongation. Though not as strong, sealants have some features worth noting:

• They lock moisture in or out in the components they are used.

• They provide acoustical and thermal insulation.

• They are used as fire barriers and have electrical properties.

• They are used as smoothers and filters.


Just like sealants, adhesives are increasingly being used in the American medical field. Currently, its acceptance rate in the market stands at 25% of surgeries. Their utility is of great benefits as shown below:

• Adhesives dramatically reduce healthcare costs.

• They significantly reduce time spent in surgery.

• They curb the risk of a bleed.

• They are generally easy to use.

Adhesives are a being used as a replacement for sutures and staples. In the case of an external wound, most patients settle for an adhesive over stitching, which spares them the pain inflicted while being stitched. On the other hand, the physician avoids the costs associated with administering anesthesia to the wound. Besides, adhesives come in different forms, which include pressure sensitive, structural, and non-structural adhesives to meet the varying needs of its users.

• Structural Adhesives

Among the short list of adhesives, structural ones are the strongest. They are chemically curing compounds used for bonding surgical instruments to rubber bumpers on crutches. Cyanoacrylates are a perfect example that is fast curing and largely used in the medical industry.

• Pressure Sensitive Adhesives

These adhesives are mainly utilized in the assembly of medical devices. They require pressure to bond and are used in the medical industry to assemble blood glucose monitoring strips. For a quick attachment of products to the skin, PSAs are highly effective and they include surgical drapes, first aid cut dressing, or an insulin pump.

Application of Adhesives

• Application Equipment

Adhesives are mainly used in application equipment. Through the selection of the right dispensing and application equipment, adhesives make it easier to achieve quality surgical end-products. Therefore, it is advisable to consider the factors that maximize the technology you are set to use to meet your specific needs.

• Surface Treatment

Adhesives are known to form extra-strong bonds. However, for this bond to withstand, the surface substrates under treatment must be clean, smooth, and receptive to chemicals. Surface treatment determines the duration of time that a bond can hold. In most instances, the life expectancy of a bond is directly proportional to the surface treatment.

Simply put, adhesives and sealants improve the quality of life. More to it, medical benefits are immense and include:

• Enhancing product aesthetics

• Improving medical products performance

• Increasing the quality of medical products

• Strengthen productivity

• Improving medical products durability and reliability

Adhesives and sealants are universal products, and people of all ages use them regardless of age or stage of life. In surgery, they are often used when other means of controlling bleeding fail. Besides, they are highly reliable and effective explaining why most patients prefer them. Needless to say, adhesives and sealants have supplementary improvements that appeal to most physicians in the medical sector like. For instance, they are easy to prepare, store and have a long shelf life. 

From the wide variety of products that surgeons have to choose from for patching up wounds, the use of both sealants and adhesives is promising for their respective industries.