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Spencer Wells, English surgeon

Spencer Wells, English surgeon

C029/1324

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Credit

SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The English surgeon Thomas Spencer Wells (1818-1897), was one of the most capable of the Victorian surgeons. He stood for simplicity, effectiveness and conscientiousness in surgical procedures. Following a career as a surgeon in the Royal Navy, he pioneered gynaecological surgery in London, achieving fame in the field of ovariotomy. With the use of anaesthetics such as chloroform he successfully performed abdominal operations from 1858 onwards and by 1867 he had adopted many of the techniques in aseptic surgery developed by Joseph Lister to prevent the putrefaction of wounds. He insisted on cleanliness, the isolation of operating areas, good ventilation and the avoidance of overcrowded wards. In the operating theatre, only the surgeon, the anaesthetist and the nurse needed to be in attendance.

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