Fifty years ago the surgical operations performed were principally amputations of limbs and operations for hernia and stone, but with the discovery of chloroform and ether and the resulting painlessness of operations, more surgery was practiced. During the next twenty-five years the resulting large mortality in all kinds of operations, even the most simple, prevented patients from submitting to them; yes, even the medical profession would only have recourse to them in extreme cases, and by this very procrastination the mortality was larger, to the odium of surgery, and the dread of it was manifoldly increased.
A quarter of a century ago, when Lister called attention to the frequent failures and causes of death after surgical operations and how to prevent them, surgery received a big impetus. When it was clearly demonstrated that wound infection was the trouble in most cases, and preventing wound infection by means of antisepsis, surgical
CARSTENS JH. THE REQUIREMENTS OF MODERN SURGERY. JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(18):1172–1176. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.62470440022001f
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