Old Operating Theatre

Over at Jenny Matlock's place the y are looking at the letter 'O'.

Great excuse to share the Old Operating Theatre with you.It is a fascinating place and you can see why they were 'theatres'.DSCF3977

As I am travelling at the moment I have taken the liberty of sharing the blurb from the site itself but the photos are mine!

The Operating Theatre (operating or emergency room) is found in the roof space of an English Baroque Church. At first glance this placement seems bizarre. It makes more sense when it is realised that the wards of the South Wing of St. Thomas' Hospital were built around St. Thomas' Church.

Dorcas was the women's surgical ward. Before 1822, the women were operated on in the ward – this must have caused some considerable distress.

In 1815 the Apothecary's Act, which required apprentice apothecaries to attend at public hospitals, meant that hordes of students poured in to watch operations.

Placing the Theatre in the Herb Garret of the Churchprovided a separation from the ward. It gave a separate entrance for students, and afforded a measure of sound proofing. It was also approximately at the same level as the women's surgical ward which aided the transport ofpatients to the theatre. The Theatre was purpose built to maximise the light from above, with a large skylight. Although not heated or ventilated, it provided an ideal, albeit small, area for demonstrating surgical skills.

Until 1846, surgeons had no recourse to anaesthetics and depended on swift technique (surgeons could perform an amputation in a minute or less), the mental preparation of the patient and alcohol or opiates to dull the patient's senses. Thereafter ether or chloroform started to be used. The Operating Theatre had closed down before antiseptic surgery was invented. The majority of cases were for amputations or superficial complaints as, without antiseptic conditions, it was too dangerous to carry out internal operations.

Do pop over to Jenny's blog to see some other 'O's!


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