Karly Meyer. April 8, 2017. Cutting Edge Advancements To
1317 WordsApr 13, 20176 Pages
April 8, 2017
Cutting Edge Advancements to 19th Century Surgery
Great Britain in the early 1800s was not the pleasant place we know today. There was garbage rotting on the streets, waste tossed out windows or into the River Thames, London’s supply of clean drinking water (or so they thought), and was unhealthily overpopulated due to the growth of industry caused by the invention of the steam engine. Especially in cities, households were tightly packed and overcrowded, allowing infectious diseases and bacteria to spread rapidly. Open drains and sewers flowed alongside unpaved streets while inadequate toilet facilities overflowed and seeped into cellar dwellings. The air was filthy; it was filled with the stench of rotting…show more content…
Robert Liston was a Scottish surgeon commonly called ‘the fastest knife in the West End’ and was determined to improve the poor odds of surgery in the early 19th century. For most of Liston’s career, he was known for his boldness and speed in major surgical interventions; he could amputate a leg in under 2 ½ minutes. Although it seems careless, speed was essential to minimizing the patient 's pain and improving their odds of surviving surgery in the age before anesthesia. Liston’s success rates were fairly good: only about one of every 10 of his patients died on his operating table at London 's University College Hospital whereas, the surgeons at nearby St. Bartholomew 's lost approximately one in every four. However, Dr. Liston’s speed caused multiple unfortunate casualties in his operating theater. Due to Dr. Robert Liston’s extreme speed, he accidentally took off a patient 's testicles along with the leg that was being amputated. During another leg amputation, Liston managed to perform the only known surgery in history with a 300 percent mortality rate. As Liston cut through the leg hastily, he cut off his surgical assistant 's fingers and while switching instruments, slashed a spectator 's coat. Unfortunately, the patient and the assistant both died from wound infections and the spectator died of shock.
Liston not only had a swift and (mostly) steady slice, but he