Kentucky Surgeon Essay

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One of the major surgeries of note that took place in the United States in 1809 was the ovariotomy of a Kentucky surgeon. Expected twins came to naught and a 20 pound ovarian tumor in Jane Crawford’s protruding belly needed to excised. Performed on Dr. McDowell’s kitchen table, before anesthesia, before sterilization, Mrs. Crawford sang hymns, lost 20 pounds and went on to live another 31 years.
Medicine in the United States during the Civil War era was almost at a standstill. There were some medical advancements to note: 1846 Chloric ether gas (Chloroform) was used regularly to anesthetize patients before tooth extractions and surgeries. The hypodermic syringe began to be in use in 1860s but did not come about on time to be used regularly in the Civil War. Internal organs of the body were considered off-limits to surgeons, and in an unsterilized world, opening a body cavity was a sentence of death. The germ theory, first proposed by Dr. Ignaz Philipp Semmelweiss in his publication, “The Cause,
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Union Field Nurse Emma Edmonds said about the Battle at Bull Run, “Still the battle continues without cessation; the grape and canister fill the air as they go screaming on their fearful errand, the sight of that field is perfectly appalling; men tossing their arms wildly calling for help; they be bleeding, torn and mangled; legs, arms and bodies are crushed and broken as if smitten by thunderbolts; the ground is crimson with blood; it is terrible to witness” (Edmonds, 56). The first all-out clash of North and South, the Battle of Bull Run was a mess of casualties and confusion. Untrained and overconfident soldiers, union and rebel alike, paid a high price in dead and wounded. The southerners had won the battle and were able to take their time in handling the wounded and the dead. However, the Union retreat resulted in empty ambulances and over-burdened surgeons, at least those who were not taken prisoner and transported to

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