Virtual Tour Events Education Museum Collection Shop Fun Stuff
Museum & Herb Garret

Surgery 150 Years Ago

operating theatre image

Take the Panoramic Tour of the Theatre


The Absolute Cure for the Ingrowing Toe nail.

Fig 17:Shews the Method of amputating the Great-toe with the Mallet and Chissel, used by ROONHUYSE' from Heister's 'General System of Surgery' 1745

Buy the postcard





Compared with today, operations were extremely limited in
variety and number, and were only a small part of a surgeon's
daily work. The main reason was the failure, through lack
of knowledge, to prevent infection developing after an
operation. The surgeon was limited to those operations where
post-operative infection would not prove fatal. Thus,
amputations, strangulated hernia, easily accessible cancers
of the skin, breast or subcutaneous tissues, and bladder
stones could be removed because infection of the surface of
the body although unpleasant was not lethal. Surface
procedures such as removal of cataracts, and arterial
ligation of aneurysm was also possible.

The absence of anaesthesia meant that speed was of the
essence, and one Guy's surgeon, Alfred Poland, amputated a leg
at the thigh in twenty-seven seconds.

Between 1860 and 1870 only 15% of surgical admissions to St.
Thomas's had an operation. The other 85% were treated, by
surgeons, with medicines, external applications and
applicances (trusses, splints, etc.) The surgeon was
responsible for inflamed organs (particularly the urinary and
reproductive organs), wounds, skin disorders and venereal
diseases. The overall death rate of surgical patients was 7%
compared with 15% treated by the physicians on the medical

objects in the operating theatre (photo)  


spacer imageSt Thomas's Hospitalspacer imageLondon Museums of Health and Medicine Home Pagespacer imageHerb Garretspacer image



Old Operating Theatre
Herb Garret
St Thomas's Hospital
History Link
Guys and Evelina's Hospital
Frequently Asked Questions
Contact Us

  Home Page
  Site map   
  What's new
  E-mail the Curator
  Museum Mailing List
  Museum E-forum
Old Operating Theatre
Herb Garret
Museum Collection
St Thomas's Hospital
Guys Hospital
Evelina Children's Hospital
Virtual Tour
Opening Times/Admission
How to Find Us
How to Contact Us
Hire of Museum
Group Bookings
Fun Stuff
Medical Museums
History of Medicine
Central London
  Cultural Heritage Resources

which manages the Museum on behalf of the Lord Brock Memoiral Trust


Translate this page using Babelfish

Site designed by
  Highway 57 and Kevin Flude
updated: 10/03/2010

   Please note that this site is best viewed with a browser that supports CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), such as Netscape v4+ or Internet Explorer v3+.

  Top of page Last revised on 07/03/06

   Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search
Bobby Approved (v 3.2)"