Amputation saw (2) by CHARRIERE

um 1850 



In the treatment of fractures, adventurous practices have been tried, and complicated splinter or multiple fractures and fracture injuries to or in joints have usually been treated simply by generous amputations.

Dominique-Jean LARREY (1766-1842) was embroiled in a barrage of amputation around 1809/12 - he operated countless Frenchmen on the battlefields of his master Napoleon, bringing it to 100 amputations a day, each lasting no more than 2 to 3 minutes: 300 amputations in Wagram, 200 on the eastern front in Borodino ...

The amputation was in the 18th century with great risks for all concerned:
- For the patient who had to undergo a very painful procedure
- for the surgeon, for whom the amputation could have a fatal aftermath: the patient died, he was blamed; when he recovered, he was accused of having miserably maimed the patient. Heister therefore advised every surgeon to consult more and more colleagues and to attend the surgery.


Nothing changed in the 19th century in terms of these fundamental risks. Anesthesia became known only in the second half of the century, and antibiotics were not available until recently. Neither had the prosthetics improved significantly, nor was there something significantly new for the disabled patient. Only the 20th century will invent the invalidity pension!


If the patient did not die of blood loss during or immediately after the amputation, death often threatened him with severe infection of the wound. Not a few examples bear witness to unprecedented torments. For example, after such severe amputation infections, they attempted to treat them with further partial amputations. That may have started with the amputation of one foot and ended, after another six partial amputations, with the last high on the hip, after which the patient so maltreated finally died miserably at the infection of the last operation.

There were technical advances, but also signs of stubbornness: in the 19th century, despite warnings from hygienists, the handles of the instruments were still made of wood. A 38 cm long, 9.5 cm high saw with wooden handle and replaceable blade, from the workshop of the famous Parisian instrument maker CHARRIERE, will be presented. This type of saw, both as regards the blade and the GriffForm, continued to be used unchanged after 1900. Only the material changed by the handle, was worked in a cast with the leaf frame, made of steel.