~ Millions Wounded in wars - gives surgeons oportunity to experiment and practise - new techniques made for setting bones, skin grafts which formed the basis of plastic surgery, improved surgery on the nose, ear, eye, mouth, throat and brain (increased number of head wounds), bullet wounds forced surgeons to find better ways to prevent deep infections.
~ The Wars - many quickly trained surgeons (for the war) set themselves up as specialists after the war, x-rays became routine to find bullet wounds, blood transfusion used effectively for the 1st time, methods of storing and transporting blood improved, health of recruit to army encouraged government to improve health care at home, soldiers promised 'homes for heroes,' which speeded up the removal of unhealthy slum housing.
~ X-rays - discovered 20yrs before the war by Wilhelm Rontgen. More machines had to be quickly manufactured and installed in major hospitals along the Western Front. They helped surgeons to quickly remove deeply lodged bullets and shrapnel which would have otherwised caused fatal infections.
~ Blood Transfusion - Regularly tried in 1800s but only worked sometimes. In 1901 scientists discovered different blood groups and realised transfusion only worked if the blood types were matching. However in yrs before the war they used on-the-spot donors as they couldn't store blood as a coagulated (changed into clots). During 1st War loads of blood was needed which made use of on-the-spot donors difficult. Many soldiers bled to death before blood could get to them. The search for better storage of blood led scientists to finding that the plasma could be seperated from the corpuscles of the blood. The cells were bottled and packed in ice until needed. They only had to be diluted with a warm saline solution and then it was ready. This saved lives in operations and in the trenches.
~ Fighting infection - Aseptic surgery had made operations very successful in Britain. However the pressure of the huge amounts of operations meant it was difficult to prevent infection. This was made worse by the bacteria lodged on clothing, which meant, that when wounded, the bacteria would transfer into the wound and gangrene would be caused. Surgeons found that they could cut away infected tissue and soak the wound with saline solution. This was practical and quick but didn't help against serious infection.
~Vaccines - 1906 Calmette and Guerin discovered a vaccine against TB, 1913 Behring perfected a diptheria vaccine.
~ Salvarsan 606 - Paul Ehrlich (a member of Koch's team) was fascinated by how the body's antibodies could destroy bacteria but not harm anything else. He compared these antibodies to magic bullets. He was convinced a chemical could be found which might do the same. 1905 he was trying to find a magic bullet to treat syphilis. He decided to experiment with chemical compounds based on arsenic instead of dyes. His team had tried 605 variations before they found it. They almost missed 606, it was only when Sahashiro Hata was retesting it…