Roy Porter: History of surgery

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 Roy Porter 

Who is the intended audience? How readable is it and is it critical or celebratory  of the 19th cent medicine?

Surgery changed more in the 19th cent than in the previous two thousand years, paving the way for today's high-profile,high-tech,sky's-the-limit specialty. 

In the begining there were serve constraints that limited surgery yet after two breakthroughs that allowed suregery to occur to painfree set it propelled surgery into the limelight. 

1) Anaesthesia: Key pioneer was William Thomas Green Morton, a dentist that re used and masked the smell of ether yet his lie was caught out. The spread of ether though was large in Europe. Anaesthesia became accepted yet ther was soon displaced by chloroform. 

    • Objections: biblical and medical grounds as anaesthesia could be fatal 

2) Antisepsis: Lister did not invent it but he did make it effective by making it into routine of suregery prep. 

    • The routine was to remove the clotted blood and to bath the wound with carbolic, it was then wrapped with a lint that was soaked in carbolic and linseed oil. Tinfoil was then placed on top to prevent evaporation.

The late 19th Cent environment looks  in retrospect a mish-mash of…


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