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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Amputation

From nps.gov

Amputation. It is the one thing that seems to fit synonymously with Civil War medicine. Often spoken of as a needless procedure that cost an otherwise healthy young man a limb, the reality is that though the stories about the piles of limbs present in many field hospitals during battle are true, the procedure was life saving.
 
There are over 50,000 cases of amputations recorded for the war. The procedure was the quickest solution for a limb shattered beyond recognition, or the best chance against infection and hemorrhage that could take the soldier’s life later. In fact, if an amputation took place within the first 24 hours, the soldier’s chances of dying were a mere 27%. If performed later, the mortality rate jumped to 52%. Sometimes, it was the simple fact of sacrificing the limb to rescue the man.

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