Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Dangers of Amputation Surgery

From: civilwarmonitor.com

This drawing of Union soldier Milton E. Wallen highlights the dangers of amputation surgery. After having his arm removed by Confederate doctors, Wallen headed toward Union lines for medical attention. While recuperating at the Navy School Hospital in Annapolis, Wallen’s stump became infected with gangrene. “Hospital gangrene” was a chronic problem during the war. A small black spot would appear in the wound and slowly expand, resulting in loosened skin, necrosis of body tissue, and corresponding putrid smells. The likelihood of gangrene increased the longer an amputation surgery was delayed—thereby increasing the likelihood of death post-surgery. However, by 1864, Union surgeons learned to control gangrene by pouring carbolic acid—a painful but effective antiseptic—over the infection. (Image Credit: National Museum of Health and Medicine.)


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