The History Of Surgery

Jun 4 2012 @ 8:44am

Amputation_Kit

Before anesthesia it was amazingly quick:

It would take a little while for surgeons to discover that the use of anesthesia allowed them time to be meticulous. Despite the advantages of anesthesia, [British surgeon Robert Liston], like many other surgeons, proceeded in his usual lightning-quick and bloody way. Spectators in the operating-theater gallery would still get out their pocket watches to time him. The butler's operation [the first surgery Liston did with anesthesia], for instance, took an astonishing 25 seconds from incision to wound closure. (Liston operated so fast that he once accidentally amputated an assistant's fingers along with a patient's leg, according to [historian Richard Hollingham]. The patient and the assistant both died of sepsis, and a spectator reportedly died of shock, resulting in the only known procedure with a 300% mortality.)

(Photo by Curious Expeditions)