General, Research, Technology

How did ancient surgeons perform operations without anesthesia?

Throughout their lives, all people at leastsuffer several times from any disease. They are usually treated with medications, but in some cases, surgery is necessary. Today there is nothing wrong with them, because during such interventions, patients are under anesthesia and do not feel pain. If the operation is performed by a professional, it is successful and the person recovers. But in ancient times, effective pain relievers did not exist, and surgical operations, despite this, were carried out. In some cases, patients simply had to endure until doctors cut off the affected organ. And sometimes methods were used for pain relief that today may seem wild to us. For example, before the operation, some doctors simply hit the patient on the head so that he would temporarily lose consciousness and feel nothing. But weren't there more humane methods of pain relief? They certainly existed.

In ancient times, medicine was terrible

How does anesthesia work?

Scientifically, anesthesia is an artificialinhibition of the central nervous system, in which a person's sensitivity to pain disappears. Anesthesia is local and general. In the first case, the pain disappears only in a certain part of the body, and in the second, the person loses consciousness and does not feel anything at all. The effect occurs when anesthetics are injected into the body, the dose of which is calculated by the anesthesiologist. The ratio and concentration of anesthetics depends on the type of surgery and the individual characteristics of the patient.

General anesthesia is used in major operations. And when removing a tooth and so on, you can do with local anesthesia

In simple terms, pain relieversmeans do not allow nerve cells to transmit information about pain sensations to the brain. These funds can be injected into the human body either with a syringe or with an inhaler. At the moment, there are many types of anesthesia and it is absolutely impossible to use each of them thoughtlessly. The fact is that people simply cannot tolerate some types of painkillers. Therefore, each patient needs an individual approach.

Read also: 10 myths about operations and surgeons

Anesthesia in ancient times

In ancient times, people were poorly versed inthe principles of the human body. Therefore, so that during the operation a person did not make sudden movements and did not suffer, in medieval Europe they hit him on the head with a hammer. The patient lost consciousness and did not feel anything, but in some cases the blow could simply lead to his death. Sometimes the veins were cut open and the patient was bled until he fainted. But in this case, there was always a risk of death of a person from the loss of a large amount of blood. Since all these methods of pain relief were dangerous, over time it was decided to abandon them.

A picture in which a bound woman is removing a bad tooth

Sometimes, surgery was performed onpatients who are conscious. To keep them from moving and not interfering with the surgeon, their arms and legs were tightly bound. Perhaps a terrible picture has already appeared in your imagination, where a person suffers from terrible pain while surgeons torment his body. The picture is quite realistic, because in some cases it looked like that. To make patients suffer less, surgeons tried to carry out operations as quickly as possible. For example, Russian surgeon Nikolai Pirogov could amputate a leg in just 4 minutes. There is also information that he performed the removal of mammary glands in women in 1.5 minutes.

Russian surgeon Nikolay Pirogov

The first pain relievers in the world

While in medieval Europe patientsbeaten on the head or literally tortured; some of the peoples still tried to invent painkillers. You probably already know that in ancient times, many shamans were often in a state of drug intoxication. So, some of them chewed coca leaves (from which the drug cocaine is made) and spit them out on the injured people. The pain-relieving effect was really felt, but in ancient times shamans did not know exactly why this was happening. They must have considered pain relief a gift from the gods.

Coca leaf

Science was constantly evolving and at one point peoplerealized that nitrous oxide can give an analgesic effect. But in medicine, the so-called "laughing gas" did not begin to be used right away - people were more amused by the fact that after inhaling this gas they always want to laugh. At first, laughing gas was used for tricks in the circus. In 1844, circus performer Gardner Colton used laughing gas to cheer one of his patients. He fell off the stage laughing, but did not feel any pain. Since then, the laughing times have been frequently used in dentistry and other fields of medicine.

Laughing gas is still used today. For example, during childbirth

Throughout history, scientists have tried manymethods of pain relief for patients. But lidocaine and other drugs that are widely used today appeared only in the 20th century. Thanks to them, the number of deaths during operations has significantly decreased. Yes, and the anesthesia itself today, in most cases, is safe. Researchers estimate that the probability of dying from anesthesia today is 1 in 200 thousand. That is, the risk of dying from anesthesia is almost the same as from a brick falling on your head.

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Scientists are still trying to develop newpain relievers. In early 2020, I talked about how a strong anesthetic can be made from snake venom. If interested, read this link.

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