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War Surgery and Medicine


page 302

IN war surgery amputations have always been an important feature. In past centuries the performance of amputations was a relatively easy and crude surgical procedure which could be carried out rapidly and with few instruments. In the absence of anaesthesia speed was essential, and it is on record that famous surgeons in the past prided themselves on the extreme rapidity of their work. The large amputation knives were designed to cut straight through all the tissues to the bone irrespective of anatomy, and with a large saw the limb was soon lopped off. The tourniquet would also deaden the pain as well as stop bleeding. Circular methods of amputation were naturally suitable for this type of procedure, and they became standardised. The indications for the removal of the limb were many and were mainly preventive in character, and no doubt many lives were saved, at the expense of the limb, by the removal of dead and severely traumatised tissue, and by the prevention of severe infection.