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10 terrible and shocking facts about Victorian surgery

We are not really aware of how lucky we are until we take a look back at the medical history and realize that most Victorian surgical interventions (1837-1901) were essentially medieval. Between the 1840s and the mid-1890s, there were some radical changes in the operating room that developed into a surgical revolution. However, many patients had to suffer by that time.

The high rate of mortality during this period is frequently found in newspapers, medical journals and coroner examinations. even the healthiest people would not make it out of the surgery alive. It really was a difficult time to be a Victorian who needed surgery, but thanks to advances in modern science, these real-life horror stories are a thing of the past. These cruel and shocking facts are not for powerless things.

Chloroform was considered a practical anesthetic

The idea of ​​an operation without anesthesia is inconceivable, but that was a grim reality. In 1847, chloroform was introduced in the UK and used for the next 50 years. The Scottish obstetrician Sir James Simpson was the first to try chloroform and, fainting in his dining room, realized that he could use his powerful fumes for practical purposes. [1]

Simpson invented a mask that would be saturated in chloroform and then placed over the patient's face. After only a few minutes of preparation, the operation began. Even Queen Victoria herself received chloroform for the birth of her last two children. The use of chloroform as anesthetic eventually decreased.

9 Hot iron was used to stop the bleeding

In Victorian surgery, where heavy bleeding from a wound occurred, a hot iron could be used to stop the flow of blood. Obviously this was not pleasant at all, and alternatives to cauterization had been found long before the Victorian era. The scientific journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society already reported such an alternative path in the 1670s. Surprisingly, they even recorded the operation as a "happy" experience for the patient.

The report states:

As the poor woman's leg was cut off, the arteries were immediately disguised with some linen sacks dipt in the [mysterious] astringent spirit drink with a compress and a bandage all close to the Hold arteries. The success was that the blood was steadfast without any bandage; and instead of complaining as the ordinary people do, who have had their limbs cut off and their arteries burned with a hot iron or caustique to stop the blood, this patient looked very happy and was free of pain and slept two Hours after that and also the following night; and from then on she always found herself better without reparation for bleeding or a sick accident. [2]

8 Many Surgical Procedures Result in Deaths [19659011] Victorian-era surgery was deadly, but not because of the speedy surgeons. Instead, it was the high probability of infection after the patient left the operating table. The medical historian According to Lindsey Fitzharris, "[Surgeons] never washed their instruments or hands. The operating tables themselves were rarely washed down. These places became a kind of slow execution for the patient because they would develop those postoperative infections that would sometimes kill them within days, sometimes within months. [3]

Despite the pungent odor The doctors also believed that the pus emerging from a postoperative wound was a sign that things were healing better than what they really were – the result a bacterial infection. The high mortality rate was simply attributed to "defensive fever". Only when the surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912) introduced the antiseptic practice and sterile environment in hospitals, the infection rate began to decline. Lister is known today as the "father of antiseptic surgery".

7 Barbiers were recruited as surgeons during the war

From the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 In Britain, there was a brief period of rest. However, during the days of slaughter, hairdressers did much more than just cut hair – they were used as surgeons and were supposed to perform operations on wounded soldiers. Although no extensive knowledge and no formal education beyond that of an apprentice, the job of a barber surgeon was to pull teeth, bleed, and perform basic surgical tasks.

Surgeons and hairdressers were separated long before the Victorian occupation as two occupations era [4] but patients who needed surgery sometimes still resorted to barbers as they had the sharp tools needed for the work. Even in modern times, the red and white sticks outside a barbershop symbolize the blood-soaked napkins they used during the bloodshed.

6 Leeches are used to remove blood

If the thought of blood-sucking leeches is enough to make the skin crawl, this part could make you shudder. The heart pumps 5 liters of blood around the body in just one minute. Severe blood loss can lead to shock or even death. Fortunately, our body has a coagulation system to prevent it. During the Victorian era, the old practice of bloodshed had not quite died out.

Victorian surgeons would use living leeches to drain the patient's blood. The practice of bloodshed was harmful, as it could lead to anemia, but doctors have overlooked this for millennia. [5]

5 Amputee limbs fall into sawdust

Imagine you sawed off your leg because of a broken bone or a fracture; Then this limb is dropped into a bucket of sawdust while lying on the operating table, and the observers begin to applaud. As mentioned before, this could all be done without anesthetics. It is therefore not surprising that patients hope for an efficient and fast surgeon.

Dr. Robert Liston (1794-1847) was one of the most famous surgeons in history and was described as the "fastest knife in the West End". He amputated his patients' limbs with great speed and frequently exclaimed during the surgery: "Time me, gentlemen! Time me! "On average, only one in ten patients died from Liston at London's University College Hospital, which was considered a great success, as other surgeons had lost an average of one in four. Patients camped in front of his waiting room in the hope that he would consider them for surgery. [6]

4 Hospitals were only for the poor

If you were lucky enough to be rich In the Victorian era, you would be comfortable by a family doctor from your own bed at home treated. The poor were hospitalized and it was up to the government, not the medical staff, to decide who should be admitted. Only one day a week has been scheduled to accommodate new patients, and these usually fall into two categories: either "incurable" for infectious diseases or "insane" suffering from mental illness. From 1752, the rule at St. Thomas's Hospital in London was that "no patient should be hospitalized more than once with the same disease." [7]

Operating theaters would always rest on the top floor of the hospitals using the sunlight that would shine through a window in the roof. If the patients were too poor to pay for their treatment, the spectators were invited to look at the procedures. For others, they would have to seek financial support from their community or a willing patron.

3 Surgeons carried their blood-soaked clothes proudly

British surgeon Sir Berkeley Moynihan (1865-1936) remembered his colleagues came to work, entered the operating room and put on old surgical gowns that were stiff with dried blood and pus. " [8] Victorian surgeons were known to carry their blood-soaked garments with pride, and they also carried the stench of rotting flesh on their way home.

As a surgeon, he was not considered a noble profession, as he is today, and the hospital bug catcher, who had the task of ridding the mattresses of lice. was paid more than a surgeon during this time. Because of the high mortality rates, hospitals were known as "homes of death" rather than homes of healing.

2 There were crowds around the operating table

While patients squirming on the operating tables and even trying to run away during the painful procedures, the audience would enjoy the whole show. In Victorian times, it was not uncommon to play in front of an audience and the risk of germs entering the theater was not taken into account.

Historian Lindsey Fitzharris, author of The Sleeping Art: Joseph Lister's Quest for the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine writes: "The first two rows were occupied by the other chests of drawers and behind a second divider the pupils stood like herring in a cask, but not so quiet, as those behind them were constantly pressing for the previous ones, constantly struggling to free themselves, and often had to come out exhausted. There was also a constant call from "heads, heads" to those around the table whose heads disturbed the onlookers. [9]

The painful cries of the patients and the loud crowd that the One Operation could be overheard from down the street many floors below.

1 One of the most famous surgeons was Transgender

Surgeon Dr. James Barry died in 1865. His tombstone reads: "Dr. James Barry, General Inspector of Hospitals." Barry, considered one of Victorian history's most successful surgeons, was actually born Margaret Ann Bulkley Formally trained, he enlisted in the army and conducted a successful Caesarean section in Cape Town in 1826, seven years before the first operation in the UK

He was known for his bad temper and was annoyed with Florence Nightingale Death said, "After he was dead, I was told that [Barry] was a woman, I should say that [Barry] was the most stubborn being I've ever met. [10] It was not until a domestic employee cleaned his body after his death that the truth was recognized. His tombstone was already listed and remains unchanged.

Cheish Merryweather is a real criminal and fanatic. Founder of Crime Viral and can be found on Twitter @TheCheish .

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