Tuesday, September 20, 2016

19th Century Specialized Medicine

Below you will find an excerpt from "The Medical And Surgical Reporter" ©1896 specifically talking about Antiseptics, Electricity & SpecialIzed medicine during the later half of the 19th century.

Antiseptics, the introduction of Lister, and its legitimate outgrowth, asepsis, have so lessened the former disastrous results of surgery that the surgeon has been made bold in his operative work. Because of these gains untold suffering has been relieved, and, in innumerable instances, life has been prolonged. The greatest progress that surgery has ever known has been made in the last half of the 19th century, and the two factors that have had the most to do with this progress are anesthesia and asepsis. A closer study of pathology and symptomatology have aided greatly in the march of surgery.

Electricity has been tamed to serve the well and heal the diseased. When Franklin tapped the clouds with his kites and brought the fiery fluid in a gentle stream down the slender cord to the key in his hand, he dreamed not that, in the 19th century, it would be made to light our streets and drive our cars. When Galvani saw the muscles of the dead frog contract and relax under the influence of this subtle agent, he had no thought to what uses it would be put by medicine and surgery ere the dawn of the 20th century. When Crookes invented his tube only a few years ago, he did not foresee that, by means of it, Röntgen would be able to make shadowgraphs of things hidden from the light of day. Electricity is today one of the invincible forces giving speed and effectiveness to the progress of medicine.

Specialism had its birth in modern times, and has been a most important factor in the advances that our science and art have made. Neurology became a possibility with Wilson's study of the brain in the 17th century ; but did not grow to its present beautiful proportions until men of the 19th century devoted their time and talents to perfecting the work begun so long ago. McDowell's boldness in opening the abdomen of his Kentucky patient, led men to a more careful study of the pelvic and abdominal organs, and made gynecology and abdominal surgery a possibility. Helm- holtz's invention of the ophthalmoscope, in 1851, created modern ophthalmology, and gave to medicine one of its most useful branches. It bears to-day the proud distinction of being more nearly founded on a purely scientific basis than any other department of medicine. Proud of her progress and position, she is humiliated only by the fact that gynecology, her younger sister, has far surpassed her in adding long and high- sounding names to the medical vocabulary. Other specialties might be mentioned that have done much in advancing medicine.

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