Developments in surgery since 1900

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Development 1 - X-rays

A German scientist called Wilhelm Rontgen was carrying out some experiments in 1895. During his experiments he notices that rays of light in a covered tube were passing through a covered tube and onto a far wall. He did not know what they were so he called them x-rays.

Within a few months of his discoveries the first x-ray machines were being used in hospitals to identify diseases and broken bones.

The biggest impact on x-rays was world war 1. Surgeons used x-rays to locate shrapnel and bullets. The need for x-rays was large and the government ordered the making of many more machines. Many were built and all major hospitals in the western front had them.

Marie Curie persuaded the government to pay for mobile x-rays that could be transported to the battlefields. They became known as petite (little) Curies.

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Development 2- Marie Curie and radiation therapy

The polish scientist Marie Curie was working with her French husband Pierre researching x-rays. They noticed that their skin was being burned by the materials that they were handling. They were curious and began to investigate. This lead to the discovery of radium which ever since has been used to diagnose and treat cancers. The research continued and the research became so complex they built up a team of research scientists to share ideas.   

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Development 3- Fighting infection and disease,

 Joseph Lister ( British surgeon) began the fight against infection but with the war wounds were getting worse and new solutions were needed. Many wounds were deep and were becoming infected. Surgeons began to practice and learned to cut away the infected tissue. It was the m*** production of Penicillin ( Florey and chain) that provided the real breakthrough.

The need for Penicillin was high but the English factories were being used to help with the war effort. Florey and Chain needed help so they asked for help from America. Luckily their timing was just right *** in 1941 America was attacked by the Japanese and entered the war. The American government realised the potential for Penicillin and they made interest free loans to US companies to buy the expensive equipment needed to make penicillin. Soon British firms were m*** producing Penicillin, enough to treat the allied wounded on D-Day on 1994- over 2.3 million doses.  

The discovery of Penicillin has saved an estimated 200 MILLION lives in 70 years!!

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Development 4- Blood transfusions

During the 1800's many blood transfusions were attempted. sometimes they worked but most of the time they didn't but no one knew why. In the year 1901 Karl Landsteiner discovered the existence of blood groups. After this blood transfusions became possible is the patient and the donor were in the SAME place.

This is because doctors we unable to store blood as it clotted. This problem was sorted during world war one because of two breakthroughs. Firstly, sodium citrate was added to blood to prevent it clotting. Later on scientists were able to separate crucial blood cells and keep them in bottles for further use. This made blood banks available.

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Development 5- Plastic surgery

Plastic surgery began in India centuries before the 1900’s however it was limited because of pain and the risk of infection.  The two world wars led to an increase in techniques especially the use of skin grafts. Surgeons carried operations. out around 11000 plastic surgery operations. Archibald McIndoe carried out around 4000

Archibald Mcindoe was a new Zealander who studied in America before moving to England in 1930. In 1938 he became Consultant in Plastic surgery to the Royal Air force. He used skin grafts to reconstruct faces and hands. His Patients were devoted to him and they set up the Guinea Pig Club.

The Guinea Pig Club is the name given to the pilots injured in the Battle of Britain who were treated by Sir Archibald McIndoe at the burns unit of Queen Victoria's Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex. The Guinea Pigs were give this name simply because McIndoe had no choice but to try out his ideas on the men as he had no book to refer to or guide him.

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Development 7- Improved anaesthetics

Anaesthetics in he lat 1800's had to be inhaled through nose and mouth which meant that it was difficult to control the dossage. surgeons performed the operations as quickly as possible in fear of killing their patients. in the 1930's Helmuth Wesse developed anaesthetics that could be injected into the blood stream. this allowed a much more precise measurement of dossage and allowed longer operations.Today local anaesthetics are so effective that patients can have operations like hip replacements whilst being awake.

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