Surgical Technique From The Western Frontier to Present

I recently watched The Revenant and am now reading the book. Wound care in the 1800s Western frontiers shocked me. I’m sure surgical technique was different in big city hospitals. But out in the wilderness, all people had were crude remedies. There was no local anesthesia. People treated wounds with poultices of pine tar and Native American astringents.

In 200 years, we have come so far with surgical technique: we’ve developed anesthesia (circa 1850), sterile technique (circa 1860), and antibiotics (circa 1930). Now, major trauma centers (circa 1980) are a large part of the medical world.

Doctors learned many of the innovations in military field hospitals. As a result, these techniques made their way to general practices. Looking back, this is an area where necessity is the mother of invention. The medical community has advanced significantly in helping the body to do its job. This is truly an impressive feat in a short amount of time.