History Surgery Key Dates

These are the Key Dates for history surgery GCSE from the 19th to the 20th century.

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1799 ­ Humphrey Davy discovered Nitrous Oxide makes you less aware of pain (an
1833 ­ Joseph Lister was given title of Baronet.
1842 ­ Crawford W Long used ether as an anaesthetic while operating on a neck tumour
(but did not publish details of his operation).
1844 - Horace Wells used ether as a dental anaesthetic (to extract a tooth). This was a
demonstration but was unsuccessful as the patient was in pain.
1846 ­ William Morton used ether as a dental anaesthetic.
­ Robert Liston used ether in a leg amputation.
­ Dr JC Warren removed a tumour from the neck of Gilbert Abbott using ether.
­ Ignatz Semmelweiss cut deaths in maternity wards by making students wash their
hands in a chlorinated solution. His ideas were ignored.
1847 ­ James Simpson discovered chloroform.
1848 ­ Dr John Snow invented the chloroform inhaler to control dosage.
1853 ­ Queen Victoria used chloroform to relieve pain in the birth of her 8th child.
­ Alexander Wood invented hypodermic needles.
1858 ­ Hannah Greener died due to chloroform.
1859 ­ Joseph Lister was appointed as Professor of Surgery at Glasgow University.
1861 ­ Louis Pasteur's germ theory!
­ Joseph Lister became a surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
1865 ­ Joseph Lister tested his ideas on an 11 year old boy with a cut leg which would
have probably lead to a deadly infection. Lister soaked the bandages in carbolic acid.
There was no sign of infection and 6 weeks later the wound had healed.
1867 ­ Joseph Lister announced that his wards had been free from sepsis after 2 years of
using carbolic acid.
1850s-1870s ­ The `Black Period' of surgery. This was when, due to anaesthetics making
the patient calm, doctors tried to perform more complex surgery ­ the deep surgery
caused infection and there were higher death rates than there was before anaesthetics.
1877 ­ Joseph Lister became Professor of Surgery at King's College Hospital in London.
1878 ­ Robert Koch invented the steam steriliser to clean medical instruments.
­ Robert Koch identified the bacteria for blood poisoning (proving Lister's ideas).
1884 ­ Carl Koller discovered that cocaine could be used as a local anaesthetic.
By 1890 ­ Most operations were carried out in antiseptic conditions.

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­ William Halstead developed rubber gloves (aiding aseptic surgery).
1890s ­ Victor Horsley was the first specialist neuro-surgeon.
1895 ­ Wilhelm Roentgen invented x-rays (not patented so others could use).
1901 ­ Karl Landsteiner discovered blood groups A, B and O (this meant surgeons could
match blood to ensure transfusions were successful).
1902 ­ Blood group AB was discovered.
1905 ­ Novocaine (a more effective version of cocaine) was developed as a local
anaesthetic.…read more

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­ Increasing use of keyhole surgery, using endoscopes and ultrasound scanning,
allowed minimally invasive surgery.
2002 ­ Specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital, watching digital x-rays
transmitted by satellite, helped the medical officer at a research station from the South
Pole operate on a damaged knee.…read more


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