On this day in history – the first antiseptic operation was performed

In 1865, Dr. Joseph Lister became the first surgeon to perform
an antiseptic operation by liberal use of carbolic acid (phenol) as a
disinfectant. He had studied Louis Pasteur’s germ theory of disease, that infections
are caused by bacteria.

Lister knew carbolic acid had been effective in municipal
use for treating sewage, and decided to try using it to kill germs that would
otherwise infect wounds. He poured it on bandages, ligatures, instruments and
directly on the wound and hands.

His first patient to benefit from this procedure was James
Greenlees, age 12, whose broken leg was treated after being run over by a cart.
The dressing was soaked with carbolic acid and linseed oil. The wound healed
without infection. Lister continued his protocol of hygiene, and reduced the
surgical death rate from 45% to 15%.

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Posted on August 12, 2015, in Useful Information. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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