19th-Century Surgery Essay

610 Words 3 Pages
19th-Century Surgery

There were no real monumental changes in surgery techniques for the first half of the nineteenth century. In fact, before 1846, the only change in surgical practices was that the newer surgeons had a greater knowledge of anatomy and pathology. Surgery during this half of the century was a horrible experience that was only turned to as a last resort. Many people would choose to commit suicide rather than live through the agony of surgery, and the suffering afterwards. Operations were very brief and were accompanied by great pain. Generally the patient would be held down screaming, while the doctor performed whatever surgery was necessary. At this point in history, surgery would have been very different from what
…show more content…
A dentist, named Horace Wells, made a preliminary, and unsuccessful attempt to prove that nitrous oxide was an effective pain-killer in 1844. After his attempt was discredited due to a sound from the patient, he gave up the attempt to prove the power of nitrous oxide. A colleague of his, heard about the experiment however, and decided to try it on one of his own patients. Being unable to find nitrous oxide however, he decided to take the advice of a chemist friend, and try ether instead. He went on to prove ether to be a successful pain killer, unfortunately for him he was not able to disguise the drug sufficiently to patent it as a new drug. Wells spent the rest of his life unsuccessfully trying to prove that nitrous oxide was as effective in surgery as ether.

Despite the fact that Dr. Moreau believes that pain is unnecessary, he chooses to do without ether for the creatures that he creates. At the time that the book was written anesthesia would already have been around for quite a while. Anesthesia was not used for all patients for quite a while after its discovery. Doctors of the time believed that different types of people had different levels of pain tolerance. They felt that the poor, and less educated were unable to feel pain to the same extent that their "rich" friends could.

Vivisection, which is closely related to surgery reached its height in the 1800's. Vivisection is cutting into live organisms, animal

Related Documents