The Industrial Revolution and the Advent of Modern Surgery


  • Maxwell David Melin Stanford University


medicine, history, surgery, industrial revolution, anesthesia, germ theory, asepsis, aseptic technique


In the early nineteenth century, surgery was a much less refined and respected profession than it is today. Due to the very slow progression of the practice, surgery was risky and often ineffective. Furthermore, the applications of surgery were very limited at that time. It is widely accepted that the advent of anesthesia and aseptic technique are largely responsible for the modernization of surgery—they produced changes that would revolutionize the profession. Before the introduction of these surgical principles, very little surgical progress was seen. Although we know that these technologies played an important role in the advancement of surgery, we still have yet to fully understand what led to the establishment of these technologies. The goal of this paper is to understand how the societal trends of the Industrial Revolution are directly linked to these innovations and ultimately, the introduction of modern surgery.






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