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19th century surgery using antiseptic spray

19th century surgery using antiseptic spray

N700/0033

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Antiseptic surgery. Engraving of surgeons at work during the 1870s. An antiseptic spray (on stool) is being used. The antiseptic methods of surgery had been developed in 1867 by the English surgeon Baron Joseph Lister (1827-1912). Lister, having read Pasteur's work on fermentation, realised that sepsis was caused by microorganisms which could be killed with chemical compounds. He devised an antiseptic spray of phenol solution (carbolic acid) to be used as the surgeons worked. However, the spray caused eczema on the hands of operators and nurses and it was abandoned in favour of aseptic methods in the late 1880s.

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