Page:The Evolution of Surgery.djvu/15

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The Evolution of Surgery.

that not only were many limbs saved, but the mortality was reduced in a similar ratio.

Closely analogous to amputation from our present point of view is the operation known as the "radical cure of hernia," which by curing ruptures increases greatly the efficiency of the man or woman who has any form of work to do, relieves him or her from the disagreeable necessity of wearing a truss, and removes a definite risk to life. In 1883 this operation was performed three times, and the results were very uncertain: in 1908 it was performed 264 times and nearly all cases are permanently cured.

And, lastly,—in order that once and for all I may have done with statistics,—let me show you how far time has been saved to the disabled worker when I tell you that in the earlier of our two selected years the average hospital treatment of a surgical in-patient was twenty-one days, where now it is but nineteen days: not a great difference you may think in the case of each individual, but a very definite gain to the whole community.

You will be as pleased as myself that I cannot show you by means of figures what has been saved in pain and suffering. Those only who remember the time when every wound required an almost daily dressing with the recurrent handling of more or less inflamed and intensely painful surfaces, can realise what it means that we now leave our operations untouched for a week and then uncover the wounds we have made to find with almost absolute certainty a perfectly healed surface. The operation of to-day implies as a rule a few hours of slight smarting, and about two days of discomfort from the effects of the anaesthetic and the early stages of confinement to bed, after which the tedium of convalescence is almost the sole remaining trouble.