The PioneersThe MilitaryReferences

The Age of Discovery

William Thomas green Morton (1819-1868)

Below is an account of a typical pre anaesthetic operation remarks by surgeons and an account of the procedure itself.
We must also be aware of the stress that a surgical procedure put on the surgeons shoulders, here is a quotation from James Millers book of 1848 entitled the Surgical Experience of Chloroform.

Mr Abernethy, on proceeding to perform an important surgical operation, was accosted by a colleague, who said,
"How are you? How do you feel today?" "Sir" replied Mr Abernethy, "I feel as if I was going to be hanged" This surgeon who was Hunters successor vomited when he emerged from the operating theatre because of the pain and anguish he just inflicted. 182

“The case was an interesting one of a white swelling, for which the thigh was to be amputated. The patient was a youth of about 15, thin and pale but calm and firm. One surgeon felt for the femoral artery, had the leg elevated for a few minutes to exsanguinate the limb before the compression tourniquet was applied. The white swelling was fearful, frightful. A little wine was given to the lad; he was pale but resolute; his father supported his head and left hand.

A second surgeon took the long, glittering knife, felt for the bone, thrust in the knife carefully but rapidly. The boy screamed terribly; the tears went down the fathers cheeks. The first cut from the inside was completed, and the bloody blade of the knife issued from the quivering wound, the blood flowed by the pint, the sight was sickening; the screams terrific; the operator calm.” 183

This is why that surgery was rushed, to get it over as quick as possible so that all parties would suffer less.
Now you might begin to understand the relief that surgeons had when Anaesthesia became known to them and then was proven to relieve the suffering of the patient. With anaesthesia not only was there insensibility to pain from the patient but it relaxed the surgeon, who was now not under pressure to complete the operation as quickly as possible. It also meant that he could be certain of the results.



Quote 71

"The only person that can keep a promise so big is God, and I haven't seen him pick up a scalpel lately." 184


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