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Cauterization in Survival Situations

32113 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  resqdoc
I was wondering, what different situations would knowing how to cauterize a wound be useful in survival scenarios?
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Cautery could be useful in a bleeding situation if you knew what you were doing. I would think only small vessels could be done in a survival situation but would be difficult to see/cauterize. I have seen it used in the case of an open wound that wouldn't heal. It's pretty crude-putting red hot metal on an open wound. It did work when nothing else helped on a very humid island in the summer. Formed a scab very quickly. Deep wounds would not respond and might be made worse. VK
Could you do this with a pocket knife and a lighter?
I was wondering, what different situations would knowing how to cauterize a wound be useful in survival scenarios?
Cauterization is tricky, and should be left to the experts.
Cauterizing tools came in our field medical packs in the military, and the only thing I used them for was lighting cigarettes when we couldn't find dry matches in the jungle.

Cauterizing like you see in the movies doesn't exist.
You stick a hot poker on a bullet hole, and all you are going to do is burn away the healthy skin around the hole and cause pain and more trauma to the victim!

Cautery is usually used INTERNALLY,
With pin point accuracy,
To stop bleeders that are too short, too torn up or too inaccessible to clamp or stitch off.

For instance, there is no way to stitch a liver that has been cut and is bleeding. A liver is like tying to put stiches in Jello, and every needle prick will cause that much more bleeding.
Enzymes in the liver keep it from clotting, so it will ooze blood until it repairs it's self no matter what you do, and you might not have enough blood to allow it to ooze for two or three weeks...

In comes the Cautery tool, and you simply 'Sear' the surface of that liver closed so it isn't leaking as much.
(You will NEVER get a liver to stop seeping blood, only internal repair can do that)

Remember, a bunch of your internal organs are VERY soft and delicate, so sticking a hot poker in there and rooting around is a BAD idea!

And like the old 'John Wayne' movies, if you stick a hot poker in a bullet hole, all you are going to do is succeed in doing is making a nice tunnel for infectious materials, and make it MUCH harder to get the bullet out...

Heat Seared tissue DOES NOT stitch it's self together.
It will replace it's self from below, but it will not stitch together with the 'Far' side of the hole or wound.

Large, gaping flesh wounds are sometimes cauterized when help is a LONG way off...
The idea is to control bleeding, without much regard to sanitation or what it will do to surrounding tissue.

I remember seeing a guy in Central America that was shark bit in the thigh about 48 hours from shore, and the crew 'Cauterized' the gaping hole to keep him from bleeding out since they had no medical kit and no way to control the hemorrhage...

It was a HORRENDOUS Wound!
What the shark hadn't taken, the cauterizing had destroyed!
I just couldn't believe he survived it!
Most of the upper thigh next to the hip joint was gone, and the thin layer of scar tissue that had formed since the attack by shark and boat mates, you could actually see the two parts of the hip ball & socket work through the scar tissue...

Anyway, cautery is best left to the professionals...
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Could you do this with a pocket knife and a lighter?
If the wound is small enough that a pocket knife will cauterize it, then just use pressure bandage!
It would take a VERY long time to bleed out with a wound that small!

Cautery is used for MASSIVE bleeding,
Or in surgery on a very MINUTE scale.

And unless your 'Lighter' could get the pocket knife blade glowing hot, No, you can't use a lighter.

Soldering iron maybe, lighter, no.
Cautery tools look like dim light bulbs when they work, anything less that glowing metal simply won't do the job, and will cause more damage.
I don't think trying to cauterize a wound is a good idea unless you are a professional or if it is the only option left open. Seems very risky and like you may cause more damage than what is has already been done.
I agree with the above. Cautery "might" be useful to save a life, but first, do no harm. Even Betadine can damage tissue. The procedures and medicines used today are very different from just a few years ago. Treatment is much more precise and careful now. Even so, this is an interesting subject. VK
it works

Personally, it may seem a bit " video gamish" but a bundle of 10-20 or so strike anywhere matches, duct taped together it enough to cauterize most small wounds, up and too including bullet holes....If you doubt me...well. Im a soldier. I know what has worked for me. This trick saved my life in Afghanistan. I personally ( in my BOB) carry 5 sets of 10 match bundles and 2 20 match bundles.
Simply ignite all match heads simultaniously, cram into wound and remove when the heat is gone. It hurts like you would never imagine, but its effective.
the risk for infection & unnecessary extra tissue damage is so great untrained that I personally don't recommend it, but then again... ANY port in a storm I suppose
Like Rambo with a bullet. Hw sticks it in the would and lights it. Woooosh!
SURGICAL cautery is a different kettle of fish from John Wayne cautery. There is almost no conceivable situation in which hot iron (etc.) would be used for field bleeding control. Tourniquets, deep packing, direct pressure, and hemostatic agents can control survivable bleeding until surgical repair.

Carrying bundles of matches to cauterize a wound is only slightly smarter than sticking same in your butt to cure hemorrhoids. NO ONE in the Army is being taught that. I highly doubt anyone has done this in Astan or that the reporter is even in the Army. I'd love to see proof of both, along with the medical case report. Please ignore this 'poster.'

Tourniquets, deep packing, direct pressure, and hemostatic agents can control survivable bleeding until surgical repair.

For small wound REPAIR and surgery, cautery can be quite helpful, with appropriate training.
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