Mission

Surgical Instruments, Procedures and Whatnot

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As sort of a starting point for that book about pirate surgeons I am always nattering on about, I have finally started adding some serious surgical content to my Pirate Surgeon's webpage relating to the surgeon's instruments. The first page in this series features an assortment of fun dental instruments as featured in the English translation of Jacques Guillimeau's The French Chirurgerie, printed in London in 1683. This puts it right square in the middle of the GAoP as an information resource (even though the original French version of the book precedes the GAoP by about 100 years.)

Note that I think we can rate this as being safe for those of you who get queasy easily; there's nothing horrific in here unless you let your imagination run wild.

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I added a page that gives more information about my particular collection of period surgical instruments for those of you who are curious. You'll find it here.

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Wow, nice collection of period surgical instruments!

It almost makes me want to have some of my teeth extracted or my skull trepaned at the next event I see you at.

Congratulations on your dedication to this area of history for reenacting and living history.

-Tar Bucket Bill

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Thanks, Bill!

I've added another new page about the surgeon's instruments - this one talks about the seton and cauteries as used in operations on the eye. (The eye doesn't figure into this very much, for those of you who are concerned about that. It's still a little intense for the weak of stomach.)

You'll find it on this web page.

It is also from the English translation of Jacques Guillimeau's The French Chirurgerie, printed in London in 1683.

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The thoughts of some sawbones pokin' into me dead-lights with sharp, pointed metal tools that resemble nut picks does make me ill at ease --- like awaiting trial at the Old Bailey.

Very interesting information. I had no idea they treated cataracts during that period of time.

Keep up the interesting research!

-Tar Bucket Bill

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Actually, Arabic surgeon Avicenna was treating cataracts in the 10th century. It was on his procedure and book that the period surgeries were based.

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Thanks, it helps me too (but not the pirate characters - the Navy one helps the Doctor sometimes as a loblolly boy).;)

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Here's the first page in what will eventually be a series of 17/18th c. procedural pages on surgery about Trepanation - or drilling extra whole in the head - from the Father of Sea Medicine, John Woodall. (I'll bet you know people who would benefit from this procedure.)

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I've added one of the tools (well, several versions of that tool and some other, related tools) required for the trepanation procedure as explained in Jacques Guillimeau's The French Chirurgerie, printed in London in 1683. There were two different kinds of tools used during period and this is one of them. (Perhaps I'll explain more about this on a future page.)

http://www.markck.com/pages/Piracy/Surgeon_Pgs/Inst_Trepan_Guillimeau.htm

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As per yer request, I am asking here... what would be done for a severe headache? Was consumption known to be contagious?

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Head-aches are a funny thing in the period medical literature. They are frequently mentioned, but the actual treatment is rarely discussed. I think this is in part because they are usually mentioned in conjunction with some other, more severe problem that is actually what the writer is describing. Still, one might be able to discern the head-ache cures from the more general cures, so I will give you a few examples of what I've found in my notes:

"Now being a violent Head-ach always

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preceded this Hemorhage, therefore when ever that Symptom came, he took a Purge of Pil. Cochia. Minor. {scruple}ij. which prevented Bleeding. I ordered him to abstain from Capital Liquors, and to drink only Small Beer.” (Moyle, John, Chyrurgic Memoirs: Of many Extraordinaary Cures, London, 1703 p. 43-4)

"By which you may perceive that the venting of the ill ayre out, and the receiving of the fresh ayre in, is both the Prevention and Cure of this Accident. But commonly there remaineth an head-ach for a while after, which with some coole perfume, as rose-water poured on a hot fire-shovell, or Camphor held to the parties nose; and the applying of a Rose-cake dipped in Veineger and Rose-water (or in a Veneger alone) to the forehead and temples. After their recovery, it is good also to gargle with warme water, and Oyle of Violets, or Oyle of

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sweet Almonds; and to drinke some fat broths or swallow some warme fat morsels of Mutton or Lambe; or els some fresh butter. Such things doth Haly Abbas in the 6. Booke and 4. Chapter of his Practice appoynt. And the reason I take to be, that Fatty and Oyly things will best heale that harshnesse that the smoake and ill vapours have begotten in the throate and stomacke. If a Feavor succeed, & the constitution require it, Forestus counsaileth to open a veyne.” (Bradwell, Stephen, Helps For Suddain Accidents Endangering Life., Thomas Purfoot, Popes-head Alley, 1633, p. 107-9)

"Venesection [or blood-letting] of the two veins behind the ears. Bleeding from both of these will give relief in cases of chronic catarrh, migraine and chronic foul pustules, and scabs of the head...

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..."The action of the two arteries in the temples give relief for chronic migraine and severe headache and constant ophthalmia and the flow of acrid superfluities in the eyes." (Albucasis On Surgery and Instruments; A Definitive Edition of the Arabic Text with English Translation and Commentary, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, 1973 p. 638-40)

Now, as to consumption, my guess would be no, although I didn't find much to support it.

"Wharton’s almanac for 1648 predicted an increase in fevers, coughs and consumption as the result of an impending eclipse.” (, Doreen G., Popular Medicine in Seventeenth Century England, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, Bowling Green, OH, 1988, p. 52)

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I added some information on bullet extraction tools that I copied from Jacques Guillimeau's book The French Chirurgery to my web page for your edification. Use the hot-link up there to jump to it.

I thought the chain bullet he talks about and draws was sort of interesting - I knew they had chain shot for cannon, but not chain bullets for hand weapons. (Of course, it may not have been active during the GAoP - the TFC was first published in England in 1597.) I wonder how well it worked? Ah, the stuff you learn about...

I also added info about John Woodall's Trepanning Procedure to the PSJ webpage which I notice I did not post here when I put it up a few weeks ago. I guess I forgot to do that after putting it on my SJ Facebook Fan Page. Sorry about that.

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I added some information on bullet extraction tools that I copied from Jacques Guillimeau's book The French Chirurgery to my web page for your edification. Use the hot-link up there to jump to it.

I thought the chain bullet he talks about and draws was sort of interesting - I knew they had chain shot for cannon, but not chain bullets for hand weapons. (Of course, it may not have been active during the GAoP - the TFC was first published in England in 1597.) I wonder how well it worked? Ah, the stuff you learn about...

I also added info about John Woodall's Trepanning Procedure to the PSJ webpage which I notice I did not post here when I put it up a few weeks ago. I guess I forgot to do that after putting it on my SJ Facebook Fan Page. Sorry about that.

I've seen quite a lot of evidence of chained and wired musket shot on various shipwreck sites from the era. At first I thought it must have just been something quite rare but they seem to find a lot of the things.

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You would think the chain would break easily.

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You would think the chain would break easily.

yeah i know although I have only seen a couple of examples of a chain one the majority are connected by a wire.

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Heres a picture of a Wired musket ball recovered from a wreck dating back to 1667

wiredball.jpg

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This is probably one of the best period descriptions I've found for wet cupping. It's from John Atkin's The Navy Surgeon:

“XII. Cucurbitula.

Cupping is more expedient in Apoplectick, Hysterick, and Parlytick Cases, the Pain as well as drawing forth of Blood, irritating and making Derivation: They are commonly put to Shoulders and Inside of the Thighs; or as other Cases may indicate, immediately to the Part affected.

The Scarificator [a little metal box with multiple spring-loaded fleams that cut into the flesh simultaneously when a lever is thrown - for pictures of some, click here] is best reckoned for this Work, because it makes all the Wounds at once, and with less Apprehension than our common Method at Sea, by a single Lancet.

Having marked the Diameter of the Glass, by applying it close with a little Flock of Tow set on Fire (or Wax-candle fixed at Bottom,) we chaff the Skin, scarify, and return it again in the same manner; and though a little painful, draws more commodiously, the Exsuctions of the Air-pump can do in the other.

The Phœnomenon is thus explicated. When the Air in the Cupping-Glass is expelled, or greatly rarefy’d by the Fire; the Flesh swells into it, and Exsuctions of Blood follows. First, Because the Gravity of the Atmosphere is taken off, from that Spot the Glass is on, which makes way. Secondly, For the Particles of Air circulating in our Blood to expand and swell, towards where the Æquilibrium is wanted; for this Reason a Sponge of cold Water to the Glass, lessens its Attraction; warm Water or a warm Room encreases it. And by the same Philosophy, a Bottle heated and inverted into Water, will attract above one Third full.

To remove them you need only press the Skin with your Finger to let in a little Air; when off, wash the Scarifications with warm Wine and Water, and apply Ceratum Diapalm. [Ceratum Diapalmae – a drying paste made with wax, oil, hogs-fat, palm oil, litharge, and zinc sulfate.]” (Atkins, Navy Surgeon, p. 181)

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There's a new series of pages on my pirate surgeon website about Finding and Obtaining Period Documents.

For those of you wanting to learn more about sea/pirate surgery, there is also a list of books I have found the easiest to read and most useful to learning about GAoP-era surgery. Each book is linked to Amazon and/or a search database. (The pages before the list explain how to you can procure articles from the search databases.)

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Israel Cross asked me to work up a page on the treatment of scurvy. You can see the results starting on this page. It is written from the point of view of a Golden Age of Piracy surgeon in keeping with my webpage's philosophy. (If you want the whole history of scurvy and how it was cured, I recommend Wikipedia. :D )

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I have just put the finishing touches on a page about the dental pelican. I even learned why the dental pelican often removed extra teeth while researching the information for this page - something that never made sense to me until now.

If you want to find out that and how this lovely tool worked, you can check out the page via this link.

pelican_model_allen.jpg

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I put together a page containing a period procedure for bleeding. Most surgical books refer to bleeding, but don't actually explain how to do it, but I actually stumbled across a period era surgical instructional book that gave an extensive account of how this was done. You'll find it on my website via this link.

bleeding_mission&cheeky.jpg

In related news, thanks to this account - which refers repeatedly to porringers (well, 'porrengers'), I was able to pick up three bleeding bowls proper to the account for less than the cost of one repro-bleeding bowl. This is because pewter porringers are cheap and easy as dirt to pick up on eBay. The three I found compare favorably to the drawings in Dionis' account. Finally, all that reading pays off. (Sort of.)

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I never thought that dropsy - aka endema - would be an important topic for a pirate surgeon, but it turns out to have a rather interesting link to the sea-going folks. It also involves some tools/treatments that I never understood well until I discovered this treatment: scarification and the use of the trocar. Don't know those are? Check 'em out via this link! ;)

dropsy_relief_of_dropsy_opera_omnia_medica_et_chirurgica_paul_barbette_1672.jpg

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Beginning this month I will be adding a new page each month for 2012 to my Pirate Surgeon website explaining the Golden Age of Piracy Surgeon's tools, procedures or history. These articles will be culled from my reading of period books, the references for which I will cite for those wishing to do further research.

This month's page discusses the procedures for healing bullet wounds. Enjoy!

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Hey, there's a Bonus Page this month, especially for today, February 14th!

You can check it by clicking on this link.

Happy VD!

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This month's article on Pirate Era surgery features period information on the treatment of gangrene. (Click on that link to read it.) I have added a new section enumerating points that could be brought up by period pirate surgeon re-enactors. They are listed with a dash of humor. If folks like them, I may go back and add similar lists to the previous surgical procedure articles on my web page.

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