Surgicatv Instruments Ok Guy De Chauijac, Nos. I, 2, 3, And 4 ('Kourtkrnth Century) ; And Surgical.

Surgicatv Instruments Ok Guy De Chauijac, Nos. I, 2, 3, And 4 ('Kourtkrnth Century) ; And Surgical.

Apparatus Of Hans Von Gerssdorff, Nos. 5,6 And 7 (Fifteenth Century).

Afterplates in Gurlt's " Geschichte der Chirurgie.



Balista used for extraction of arrows


Extension arrangement for reducing upper arm dislocations, called "The




Cauterizing shears with cannula for cauterization of the uvula


Screwpiece for extending a knee contracture




Extension apparatus in the form of armour-arm and armour-leg plates

(4' harness instruments ") for contractures of the ell>< >w and knee joints

To know Guy de Chauliac's works well is to have ready contradictions at hand to practically all of the objections so frequently repeated as to the lack of scholarly work during the Middle Ages. For instance, Guy de Chauliac insisted on the value of experience rather than authority, and of original work rather than mere copying. He criticized in bitter satire John of Gaddesden's book on medicine, called after the fashion of the time by the poetical title " Rosa Anglica," of which he said : " Last of all bloomed the scentless Rose of England, which on its being sent to me I hoped to find bearing the odour of sweet originality. But instead of that I encountered only the fictions of Hispanus, of Gilbert, and of Theodoric." His mode of satirical expression is all the more interesting and significant, because it shows that the men of the time were critically minded enough as regards many of the passages in the writings of their predecessors with which fault has been found in the modern time, though we have usually been inclined to think that medieval readers accepted them quite uncritically. Chauliac's bitterest reproach for many of his predecessors was that 44 they follow one another like cranes, whether for love or fear I cannot say".

Chauliac's description of the methods of anaesthesia practised by the surgeons of his time, especially in cases of amputation, is particularly interesting to us because the anaesthetic was administered by inhalation. Chauliac says :

Some surgeons prescribe medicaments, such as opium, the juice of the morel, hyoscyamus, mandrake, ivy, hemlock, lettuce, which send the patient to sleep, so that the incision may not be felt. A new sponge is soaked by them in the juice of these and left to dry in the sun; when they have need of it they put this sponge into warm water, and then hold it under the nostrils of the patient until he goes to sleep. Then they perform the operation."*

* The subsequent disuse of anaesthesia seems an almost impossible mystery to many, but the practically total oblivion into which the practice fell is incomprehensible. This is emphasized by the fact that while it dropped out of medical tradition, the memory of it remained among the poets, and especially among the dramatists. Shakespeare.

Chauliac was particularly interested in the radical cure of hernia, and he discusses six different operations for this purpose. Gurlt points out that Chauliac's criticism of these operations is quite modern in its viewpoint. He declared that practically the object of radical operations for hernia is to produce a strong, firm tissue support over the ring through which the cord passes, so that the intestines cannot descend through it. It is rather interesting to find that the surgeons of this time tried to obliterate the canal by means of the cautery, or inflammation-producing agents—arsenic and the like—a practice that recalls some methods still used more or less irregularly. They also used gold wire as a support; it was to be left in the tissues, and was supposed to protect and strengthen the closure of the ring. At this time all these operations for the radical cure of hernia involved the sacrifice of the testicle, because the old surgeons wanted to obliterate the ring completely, and thought this the easiest way. Chauliac criticizes the operation in this respect, but says that he has " seen many cases in which men possessed of but one testicle have used the tradition in " Romeo and Juliet.1' Tom Middleton, in the tragedy of "Women Beware Women'1 (Act IV., Scene i., 1605), says :

" I'll imitate the pities of old surgeons To this lost limb, who, ere they show their art, Cast one asleep, then cut the diseased part.11 procreated, and this is a problem where the lesser of two evils is to be chosen".

While he discussed hernia operations so freely, the great French surgeon did not believe that everyone who suffered from a hernia ought to be submitted to an operation. He quite agreed with Mondeville who, in the preceding generation, declared that many operations for hernia were done not for the benefit of the patient but for the benefit of the surgeon—a mode of expression that is likely to strike a sympathetic chord in some physicians' minds even at the present time. Chauliac's rule was that no operation should be attempted unless the patient's life was put in danger by the hernia, but that a truss should be worn to retain it. He emphasized that trusses should not be made according to rule, but must be adapted to each individual, and he invented several forms of trusses himself. He developed the method of taxis by which hernias might be reduced, suggested an exaggerated Trendelenburg position for operations for hernia and for the manipulations necessary for the reduction of hernia.

The technique of some of these old surgeons is a never-ending source for surprise. The exaggerated Trendelenburg position in the operation for the radical cure of hernia—the patient being fastened on an inclined board, head down, so that the intestines would fall away from the site of operation — was used by Guy de Chauliac, who probably obtained a hint of it from Italy. He also employed extension in the treatment of fracture of the thigh, inventing an apparatus by which this might be continued for a long time until the muscles were relaxed from overtiredness. He made use for this purpose of a weight suspended on a cord which ran over rollers. He also adapted stiffened bandages of various kinds, especially employing white of egg for this, and sometimes moulding bandages to the limbs in cases of fracture. Yperman, the Flemish surgeon of this time, knew and used the oesophagus tube for artificial feeding, and a number of various kinds of instruments were invented for the urethra, including bougies of wax, tin, and silver. In diseases of the bladder and in gonorrhoea John Ardern employed astringent injections.