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The Old Operating Theatre with Mark Pilkington | Medical London



so we're in the old operator Garret and this was actually built as an operating theater for women in 1822 as part of st. Thomas's hospital the women's ward was actually alongside the herb garret and that's why this became the women's operating theater and you can see why it was called an operating theatre because it has this stepped viewing arrangment above it from which the students could watch the procedures taking place on the table down here this particular operating theatre would have been quite an unpleasant place to visit either as a spectator or as a patient who was of working site from 1822 to 1862 which meant that it didn't see either antiseptic development come in or anesthesia so this would have been pretty brutal bloody noisy smelly disgusting place you'd have most likely been dosed with alcohol or some kind of sedative maybe given a large wooden pole to bite on to kind of and stop you from screaming or thrashing around and a common form of surgery amputation for example would have taken all of one minute to actually remove the necessary limb or digits or whatever it was going to be this being a women's ward prenatal and obstetric related operations would it likely have been common and that was a particularly unpleasant procedure as we'll see from some of the tools and devices used for removing troublesome fetuses next door so there would have been a pretty unpleasant poor hanging over this place any given time but the place was also used as a as a an educational center so students would often have been here to watch I would imagine to watch bodies being dissected and interestingly this whole region of Southwark was well known as the home of the Burrow boys who are a particularly notorious group of Body Snatchers and it wasn't until 1832 that the body-snatching laws came into effect so for good ten years it's quite like clear that the bodies are being dissected here had been pinched from neighboring church yards perhaps even been the victims of murders by the borough boys themselves so this is an account from The Lancet from April 1824 and documents the unfortunate story of Elizabeth Reagan age 60 who was admitted to the hospital on the 19th of April 1824 with a compound fracture of tibia and fibula after being hit by a large carriage resumable somewhere nearby now for several days Elizabeth was just left in a bed and watched by the doctors who noted that her condition was worsening despite it as being a minor fracture so fearing that she might die was decided 10 days later that she should be operated upon and so she doing brought into this very room and this is what happened from The Lancet thirty of of April 1894 patient rather weaker than yesterday at half-past one o'clock she was brought into the female operating theatre to undergo the operation the Turner K being applied in the artery in the groin compressed well an assistant supported the limb whilst the operator proceeded to amputate about three inches above the knee joint the usual steps of the operation having been completed great care was taken that his little blood as possible should be lost three vessels were soon secured the wound was dressed and the patient removed from the theater in 20 minutes from the time she was first brought in about four ounces of blood were lost during the operation the patient was quite faint as you might imagine she would be and brandy and wine were administered which revived her a little unexamined the severed limb it was found an oblique fracture of the tibia and fibula about three inches above the ankle joint together with extensive laceration of the integument skin extending from two inches below the head of the tibia to the inner inner malleus ankle bone no attempt at union of the bone had been set up so this was quite a minor injury by our standards you would expect to be in an out of hospital in an afternoon I would think with something so small but in Elizabeth reagan's case this resulted in first amputation of the leg above the knee and then sadly a few days later she gradually sank and died her body was not examined

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