War Surgery 1914-18

Thomas Scotland, Steven Heys

The Great War, 1914-1918 resulted in enormous numbers of casualties who had sustained filthy contaminated wounds from high explosive shellfire, bomb and mortar blast, and from rifle and machine gun bullet. Such wounds were frequently multiple, severe, and almost invariably became infected.
Publication date:
November 2013
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Illustration :
104 b/w photos, illustrations, 37 tables
Format Available     Quantity Price
Paperback
ISBN : 9781909384408

Dimensions : 234 X 156 cm
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+
£25.00
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Overview
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• This volume explains how the medical services responded to dealing with the horrific wounds sustained by soldiers in the First World War, and laid the foundations for modern war surgery that is still practised today.

The Great War, 1914-1918 resulted in enormous numbers of casualties who had sustained filthy contaminated wounds from high explosive shellfire, bomb and mortar blast, and from rifle and machine gun bullet. Such wounds were frequently multiple, severe, and almost invariably became infected. Surgical experience from previous conflicts was of little value, and it became quickly apparent that early surgical intervention with radical removal of all dead and devitalised tissue was absolutely vital to help reduce the chances of infections, especially the lethal gas gangrene, from developing.
War Surgery 1914-1918 explains how medical services responded to deal with the casualties. It discusses the evacuation pathway, and explains how facilities, particularly casualty clearing stations, evolved to cope with major, multiple wounds to help reduce their mortality. There are chapters dealing with the advances made in anaesthesia, resuscitation and blood transfusion, the pathology and microbiology of wounding, and diagnostic radiology. There are also chapters dealing with the development of orthopaedic surgery, both on the Western Front and in the United Kingdom, the treatment of abdominal wounds, chest wounds, wounds of the skull and brain, and the development of plastic and reconstructive surgery for those with terribly mutilating facial wounds.

Major advances took place in the surgical management of casualties with all types of wound. Initially, abdominal wounds were treated by "expectant treatment". Observations by brilliant clinicians working in a logical and methodical way resulted in early surgical intervention with significant improvements in survival. Management of chest wounds became more aggressive as confidence and experience grew. Major exposure of combined chest and abdominal wounds through an incision opening both the chest and the abdomen became standard practice and these experiences laid the foundations for how these wounds are managed today. There is no doubt, however, that the evolution of orthopaedic surgery was one of the most important developments during the Great War. The vision and action of Moynihan`s surgical colleague, Sir Robert Jones, in establishing the principles of segregation of patients with orthopaedic wounds, unity of control and continuity of treatment became one of the outstanding chapters of British surgery in the twentieth century.

This book is firmly aimed at all those with a passion for the history of this period. While it will be of interest to those in healthcare professions the editors have ensured that the essays are accessible and of interest to a non-medical readership. War Surgery 1914-18 contributes greatly to our understanding of the surgery of warfare. Surgeons working in Casualty Clearing Stations during the years 1914-1918 laid the foundations for modern war surgery as practiced today in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

REVIEWS

"I found the book interesting and educational, and easy to read. I would recommend this book not only to anyone interested in the history of military medicine and this period, but also to anyone interested in understanding how we got to where we are now. We believe we have made great advances in the current conflict in Afghanistan, but having read this book, it appears as if we have, to a great extent, merely rediscovered or developed ideas of the past. This book illustrates how many of these ideas originally arose from the treatment of the wounded from the trenches of the Great War.”
Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps

" … an important contribution to both the history of the Great War and the history of medicine …a superb reference text, the value of which cannot be over stated ...
Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies