Chilling black and white photographs from the 19th and 20th century have emerged today that show a range of pioneering operations being carried out – long before medical standards became commonplace.
The fascinating series of vintage pictures are a stark reminder of how little surgeons cared about hygiene more than 100 years ago, often not wearing gloves and leaving their patients at risk of deadly infections.
Dressed only in scrubs, many of those in the images can be seen performing a range of procedures without wearing masks or equipment now deemed vital in modern day surgery.
A handful of patients can be seen resting on normal, wooden tables – not the rotating, reclining beds used in hospitals across the world today. While anaesthetic is used in only a few procedures, suggesting many of the patients pictured were forced to face the pain of surgical incisions without any respite.
One of the pictures depicts Siamese twins being separated by doctors in 1902, dubbed to be the world-first operation of its kind. Such dramatic procedures to detach two bodies are much more common in 2017.
Another shows a doctor giving a patient a local anaesthetic for the first time in 1922, when Novocaine was made available for use in the US. The drug is now used widely in the present day, from fillings to mole removal.
An embalming surgeon is also pictured in his full glory. Designed specifically during times of war, this job involved injecting a special fluid into the body of dead soldiers to preserve parts of them in order to ship them home.
The female Siamese twins were born in Orissa, India, in 1888 and were attached at the chest by a band of cartilage. The moment Radica and Doodica were born, they were run out of town by the villagers, who saw them as a sign of ‘divine wrath’.
In 1893, they were sold by their parents to Captain Colman, a showman from London, who wanted to display them in Europe. Following the contraction of tuberculosis by Doodica, they were rushed to Paris to be separated by French surgeon, Eugene-Louis Doyen.
Dr Doyen was considered controversial at the time due to his fascination of filming surgical operations for use as a teaching guide. An eight-minute video of the operation was screened at meetings in Paris and Berlin.
However, while the operation was deemed a success, and Radica survived the operation, her twin sister Doodica died a week afterwards.