Modern surgeons know how to deal with blood loss. What's surprising is that most of the methods they use are hundreds, if not thousands of years old.
Why is blood loss dangerous?
Doctors worry about blood loss for very good reasons. If the body loses more than 20% of its blood, you could go into haemorrhagic shock, which is when the heart slows down and can't circulate enough blood around the body.
Blood pressure plummets when this happens and there’s a massive drop in body temperature. If the body loses more than 40% of its blood, all the organs start to shut down and death is likely.
Techniques for limiting blood loss
One of the primary tasks of healers past and present has been to stop blood loss. Many of the techniques used to limit blood loss were developed long ago to treat wounds received in battle. And most of them are still used by surgeons.
Surgical solutions for blood loss
Suggestions for further research
- More stories about surgery from the Science Museum
- The workes of that famous chirurgion Ambrose Parey (sic) by Ambroise Paré, translated by George Baker et al., 1649. (ebook)
- Ambroise Paré, Surgeon of the Renaissance by W B Hamby, 1967. (biography)
- Surgery and Society in Peace and War, Orthopaedics and the Organisation of Medicine 1880-1948 by R Cooter, 1993 (book)
- The Palgrave handbook of the history of surgery by Thomas Schlich, editor, 2018. (book)