Field surgical pannier set, United Kingdom, 1905
This large medical and surgical instrument set provided a wide range of equipment that may be needed by a frontline medical unit attached to the army. Equipment is supplied to sterilise the instruments before surgery, anaesthetise patients, perform amputations and trephinations, and includes instruments to open up the body and stitch up wounds. The kit also contains a saline infusion apparatus. Saline is used to wash wounds, to dilute drugs and also as a substitute for blood plasma. In the foreground in the blue lined case is an aspirator used to remove liquids and gases from the body. The instruments were made by at least eight different surgical and medical instrument makers and the chemicals were made by Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. The kit would have been used in field hospitals near the front line. Although it pre-dates the First World War by nearly a decade, it almost certainly saw use during that conflict.
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Glossary: field medical pannier
An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).
Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.
To make an object free of live bacteria or other micro-organisms. Usually achieved by heat or chemical means.
Glossary: field hospital
A temporary hospital set up near a combat zone to provide emergency care for the wounded.
The removal of a circular piece of the top of the head. This is done using a sharp implement or circular saw, and was common in Neolithic times. It is thought that the aim was to release evil demons or spirits from the body in the hope this would cure the person of their illness.
A liquid formerly used as a general anaesthetic although no longer used for this purpose as it causes liver damage and affects the heart rate. It is now used in low concentration to treat flatulence.
A device for removing liquids or gases from a body cavity through suction.
The liquid component of blood, in which the blood cells are suspended. Plasma makes up around 55 per cent of blood's total volume.