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19th Century Illustrations for the Surgical Removal of Unwanted Parts of the Human Body

WARNING - not for the squeamish or easily offended! And I'm not exaggerating one bit.

Many of the color lithographs seen on this site were created for US surgeon Joseph Pancoast’s (November 23, 1805 – March 6, 1882) 1844 book 'A Treatise on Operative Surgery'. The blurb tells us: “A treatise on operative surgery comprising a description of the various processes of the art, including all the new operations; exhibiting the state of surgical science in is present advanced condition; with eighty plates containing four-hundred and eighty-six separate illustrations.” These images are for the book’s second edition of 1846, for which they were “enlarged”. Other images can be found in the 1848 work Précis iconographique de médecine opératoire et d’anatomie chirurgicale by Claude Bernard (1813-1878). They are captivating and unsettling.

Yes, they are, most definitely, if not outright terrifying. Speaking as one who has endured numerous medical procedures, such as those pertaining to the prostate, I can vouch for their accuracy and for their stark and uncompromising reality. The image I chose to accompany this article was one of the very few 'safe' ones. Look and be amazed (it was 1844, after all), but don't say I didn't warn you.


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Reminds me of a job I almost had as surgical technician at a hospital. In a way I'm glad I didn't get hired. A couple weeks later I got a job at Cornell in entomology research. More my "bag" as it were.
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