Surgery Barber, Doctor, Surgeon and Peruke (wig) maker in the 17th Century


Performing Surgery in the 17th century



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Performing Surgery in the 17th century:

Surgery was particularly gruesome. Without the knowledge and modern technology we have today, surgery was dangerous and survival rates low.

Hygiene was poor, with the surgeon operating in his everyday clothes, and surgical instruments were often left lying on the floor. As an anaesthetic, patients would either sniff opium-soaked sponges or drink large quantities of alcohol, but the patient still suffered and several men had to hold the patient down. It was common for the patient to die from loss of blood or infection from the filthy conditions.

Medicine was very different from today. There was no knowledge of germs or bacteria, no anti-biotics, penicillin or antiseptics to kill germs, and no pain killers to dull pain or knock a patient out during an operation.

People did not wash, and after an operation tools would probably only get wiped with a cloth; they wouldn't put tools in water, as that would make iron and steel rust. So rather that wash them, the surgeon would simply move on to his next patient.

Very little was known about the human body as most studies had been done on animals. It was only in 1565 that Queen Elizabeth I granted The Royal College of Surgeons the right to practice regular dissection, which means permission to cut up dead bodies for research. There was certainly no National Health Service as we have now.






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