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Have you ever wondered how things were done before surgery was considered safe and before the operating room was considered sterile?

Well, youre about to find out.

A recent publication entitled Crucial Interventions vividly illustrates how some surgeries were performed during the nineteenth century the period that witnessed the complete revolution of the practice of surgery, when antisepsis was introduced, and when barbers stopped performing surgical procedures. Some illustrations are morbidly graphic, it just makes me cringe! Imagine if the surgical procedures are still performed this way today.

Strabismus, a condition where the eyes are abnormally aligned, is corrected by dividing the internal muscles of the eyeball to make the eye look at the proper direction.

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Photo credit: Wellcome Collection 2015
Resection of the lower jaw.

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Photo credit: Wellcome Collection 2015
Compression of the arteries in the arm and leg in an attempt to reduce blood loss during surgery.

surgery-victorian-era-3

Photo credit: Wellcome Collection 2015

This painting depicts how pioneering Scottish surgeon Robert Liston performs a surgical procedure with anesthesia. He operated with a knife gripped between his teeth, and can amputate a leg in less than three minutes.

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Photo credit: Wellcome Collection 2015

The operating theaters were noisy and crowded, and surgeons and their assistants were dressed in their street clothes. The patients were, uh, fortunate, to be awake during the procedure.

There were two types of Caesarean section. This kind of makes me think twice about giving birth.

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Photo credit: Wellcome Collection 2015

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