Once only found in pencil cases, toolboxes and cluttered kitchen drawers, modern glue has come a long way and its uses go way beyond sealing small wounds.

Every day, special variations of glue - often a type of acrylic resin called cyanoacrylate - are used to stick and seal in a wide variety of surgeries and treatments, ranging from open heart surgery to infertility.

Here are just a few examples of the modern medical advantages of adhesive...

1. Heart surgery

If you thought Kryptonite was only found in Superman films, think again - it's the name of a state-of-the-art glue that sticks the breastbone together after open heart surgery.

The breastbone is intentionally broken to allow surgeons to get to the heart, and usually rejoined using metal wires.

However, the Kryptonite has natural properties which promote bone healing, and using it means patients have fewer complications with bone stability and infections, says the Canadian cardiac surgeon Dr Paul Fedak who pioneered it.

Glue is particularly useful in heart surgery when a patient is bleeding heavily and it's difficult to close a wound with staples or stitches.

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2. Varicose veins

Around 15% of people in the UK have varicose veins, and another 15% have hidden varicose veins, which can't be seen on the surface but can cause symptoms including swollen ankles, aching legs and leg ulcers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends endothermal ablation to treat problematic varicose veins, where heat's used to seal them off.

But now a special type of superglue, VenaSeal, can also be used to stick together the veins that feed the blue, bulgy varicose veins, eventually making them disappear.

Vascular surgeon Professor Mark Whiteley, of The Whiteley Clinic in London, says: "The glue helps to close the main vein in the leg that causes varicose veins. The amount of glue that's used is absolutely minuscule."

He explains that a tube's inserted into the vein and the patient's tipped upside down, so the vein is empty.

Pressure's then applied to the vein, so it collapses and becomes very small, and a thin line of glue is applied.

"You don't end up with a big lump of glue in there," says Whiteley, "you have a vein held together with a tiny bit of glue all the way down the middle. It's basically superglue, but not quite as rigid, otherwise you'd feel it in your leg. It's completely set within a couple of minutes."

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3. Open wounds

During the Vietnam War, glue was used successfully to seal wounds in field surgery, although it wasn't officially approved, partly due to the unknown toxicity.

Since then, however, skin glue is utilised regularly in UK A&E departments to heal minor cuts or wounds with a straight edge, in place of adhesive tape, staples or stitches.

A layer of skin glue takes just a few minutes to set, and will remain there for five to 10 days while the skin heals underneath.

However, Whiteley warns that attempting a DIY superglue job on your own cuts "is not a wise move".

"It's not medical and if anything went wrong, you could be in trouble," he says. "Glueing the wound together is only half the story, as it'd need to be cleaned and checked to see there's nothing inside it, and a tetanus injection might be needed as well.

"If it's a deep wound, it should be checked in casualty by a doctor."

4. Brain aneurysms

Nearly 5,000 people a year in the UK suffer a burst brain aneurysm - a weak spot in a blood vessel that balloons.

The traditional treatment is invasive open surgery through large incisions in the skull, which carries a risk of damaging the brain or critical blood vessels.

But doctors can now use a new superglue-like fluid which, injected into the aneurysm, quickly solidifies and cuts off the blood supply.

Rather than cutting through the skull, surgeons make a small opening in the femoral artery in the groin and track long catheters into the brain arteries, using X-rays to navigate. They fill the aneurysm with the glue-like fluid, which hardens as soon as it hits the blood, preventing any more blood from filling the blood vessel.

Whiteley says: "If you're bleeding in your brain, in the past, a patient may have been opened up and had the bleed tied off. But now doctors can put a catheter into the bleeding artery and put a tiny blob of glue there instead."

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5. Fertility treatment

If you're having trouble conceiving and trying IVF, there's a certain logic to giving the embryo a helping hand to implant itself in the womb by making it sticky.

And that's where EmbryoGlue comes in.

The adhesive contains a substance called hyaluronan, which occurs naturally in the womb and ovaries, aiding the implantation of an embryo by making the area stickier.

Consultant gynaecologist Yacoub Khalaf, a spokesperson for the British Fertility Society, explains that a developing embryo can be cultured in an EmbryoGlue solution before being transferred to the uterus.

"The theory is that this medium could enhance the embryo's ability to attach itself to the lining of the uterus. Also, it's been speculated that the high viscosity of the medium would reduce the risk of embryos failing out of the uterus after transfer," he says. "The theory may or may not be true,"

As to whether the use of EmbryoGlue helps women get pregnant, Khalaf says evidence is conflicting, "and far from robust enough to support routine use".