Back in the 18th-19th century, we weren’t as advanced a race as we are today. The technology we have today, from scientific to commonplace gadgets, are far more superior from back then. But unless we take a look back in those ages, we’d never know how far we’ve come.
Medical surgeries as we know them today have developed over the ages and come up with fairly painless and safe techniques. But looking into the Victorian era, you’ll begin to see a surgery in the whole new light, a dark one. If you ever were afraid of visiting your doctor for a weekly appointment, these images will surely feed your nightmares.
But jokes apart, these paintings from the book ‘Crucial Interventions: An Illustrated Treatise on the Principles and Practice of Surgery’ by Richard Barnett captures the horrifying essence of the surgeries from the past. Check out these illustrations that vividly picture the horrific procedures that existed during the Victorian EraCuring the dis-oriented eyes
The surgery involved a division of the internal muscles of the eyeball so that the eye would point into the right direction! And here, I shudder at a speck of dust in my eyes.
Binds and tractions
Compression of the arteries in the arms and legs to reduce blood loss during injuries.
Removal of the lower jaw.
I am pretty sure that’s a ‘jaw-dropping’ experience. Well, not something I’d like to have.
A cross section of the human brain.
There were no MRI scans in those days. Understanding the anatomy of the human body was a crucial yet disturbing study.
Anatomy of the armpit, and the ligature (the process of clamping by string to stop the blood flow) of a blood vessel near it.
Surgery for tongue cancer.
I’m sure this must not be easy for the doctors as well. They are there to treat their patients, while they sit there screaming from pain.
Amputation of toes.
Back then, anesthesia was an unreliable luxury, with drastic side effects like seizures or even paralysis. That’s why, many surgeries were conducted on conscious patients only. I can only imagine how painful they must’ve been.
Binding the arteries
Sites for ligature of the arteries in the lower arm and elbow joint.
A painting of the first British operation carried out with anesthesia.
The doctor portrayed in this picture is the pioneering Scottish surgeon Robert Liston. He operated with a knife gripped between his teeth and could amputate a leg in under three minutes.
A surgeon’s arsenal
Surgical saws, knives, and shears for operating on the bones. This looks more like a killer’s tool kit rather than a surgeon’s!
Ligature of an artery in the inguinal region.
The process is done using sutures and a suture hook, with a compression on the abdomen to reduce the aortic blood flow.
A cross-section of the wrist showing the muscles and the blood vessels.
The detail and the levelheadedness the surgeons worked with and recorded their findings is nothing less than commendable.
Dissection of the thorax.
The image shows the relative positions of the lungs, heart, and primary blood vessels.
The doctors must be very brave and unflinching to have performed such surgeries. Hats off to them.