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Thread: Amputation in the good old days

  1. #1

    Amputation in the good old days

    Just wondering the exact methods for amputation back before modern medicine. There must be more to it than lopping off the limb and cauterizing it.

    Would there be differing methods in wartime compared to peacetime? In my current scenario, a boulder crushes a man's leg beyond saving.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Senior Member Butterfly's Avatar
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    I just googled Roman amputation for you, and found this in the telegraph.

    Thigh bone shows Roman surgeons could amputate - Telegraph

    and this

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/env...mputation2.htm
    Last edited by Butterfly; 1-29-12 at 5:40 AM.
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    Leadership Kelise's Avatar
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    On ships they just gave the man some alcohol, then something to bite down on, then just went at the leg with a cleaver/saw. They would then cauterize with the ship's axe (after holding it in the kitchen fire, I suppose).

    So there may not be more to it than just that - though ships did have limited resources. The same could have happened in smaller villages, where there isn't much else anyway.

    I think in a fantasy novel I read, the above basically happened but they were careful to leave a flap of skin attached, which they then sewed carefully over the stump.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by The Din View Post
    Just wondering the exact methods for amputation back before modern medicine. There must be more to it than lopping off the limb and cauterizing it.

    Would there be differing methods in wartime compared to peacetime? In my current scenario, a boulder crushes a man's leg beyond saving.

    Thanks in advance
    There was a crushing scene on (don't judge me, I'm a married man) Grey's Anatomy (or House?) where, apparently, the only concern of a crushed leg isn't just amputation, but also something called crush syndrome that could kill them. Might be worth a look on wikipedia.
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  5. #5
    I believe crush syndrome is where the leg or appendage that was crushed starts to swell up due to the loss of and no where for the blood to go. My brother just went through it with his foot and it was nasty. Really big bruise, swollen foot (like four or five times bigger). I believe lost had an episode where that took place to.

    And as to Devor's post I believe it was House. Can't remember anything like that off of Grey's Anatomy. I wouldn't dream of judging you as my wife has me watch it too.

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    Senior Member SeverinR's Avatar
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    Crush injury is caused by releasing the pressure on an extremety that has been crushed for more then 15 minutes,
    it releases a wave of chemicals into the blood stream from the dying tissues, poisoning the body, damaging organs.

    I believe if you can properly amputate it, without removal of the pressure, crush injury syndrome will not happen.

    House, love it, but hate the Obligatory code blue in every episode. (Not to mention the percentage of positive outcomes compared to real life. I believe once the code is called positive outcomes(survival) is 14-20%)

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by SeverinR View Post
    Crush injury is caused by releasing the pressure on an extremety that has been crushed for more then 15 minutes,
    it releases a wave of chemicals into the blood stream from the dying tissues, poisoning the body, damaging organs.
    The cool thing is that you can talk about having to amputate "or the death will spread into his blood."
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  8. #8
    I think it was house, and it was the episode that they confused the girls. The boyfriend and mother where grieving over a co-worked because the EMT's made a mistake ( or something like that)

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    Senior Member SeverinR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devor View Post
    The cool thing is that you can talk about having to amputate "or the death will spread into his blood."
    Exactly. In a way it does, and it is believable to most fantasy cultures.

    Much like death is contagious if you don't avoid dead things. They rot and cause disease in the people around them. Death didn't cause the illness, but people will die if they hang around the decomposing bodies.

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    Senior Member Caged Maiden's Avatar
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    Saw.
    http://www.imageofsurgery.com/images/Ryff_1545.png
    Also, many studied medicine before practicing, and notable men of the renaissance led their fields by employing "new" techniques for amputation. Fabricius Hildanus (1560-1624) carried out amputations with a red-hot knife, which reduced hemorrhage considerably.
    I have also read that a few surgeons were known to be able to amputate a leg in 18 seconds (no source cited) and were sought after for private citizens who needed the surgery.

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