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"It was an admirable hospital in every way, and it is doubtful if we to-day surpass it. It was isolated; the ward was separated from the other buildings; it had the advantage we so often lose of being but one story high, and more space was given to each patient than we can now afford.
"The ventilation by the great windows and ventilators in the ceiling was excellent; it was cheerfully lighted; and the arrangement of the gallery shielded the patients from dazzling light and from draughts from the windows and afforded an easy means of supervision, while the division by the roofless low partitions isolated the sick and obviated the depression that comes from sight of others in pain.
"It was, moreover, in great contrast to the cheerless white wards of to-day. The vaulted ceiling was very beautiful; the woodwork was richly carved, and the great windows over the altars were filled with colored glass. Altogether it was one of the best examples of the best period of Gothic Architecture."1
The fine hospital thus described was but one of many. Virchow, in his article on hospitals quoted in the same chapter, called attention to the fact that in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries every town of five thousand or more inhabitants had its hospital, founded on the model of the great Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome, and all of them did good work. The surgeons of Guy de Chauliac's time would indeed find hospitals wherever they might be called in consultation, even in small towns. They were more numerous in proportion to population than our own and, as a rule, at least as well organized as ours were until the last few years.
1See picture of the hospital ward at Tonnerre, in " The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries," 3rd edit., New York, 1911.
It is no wonder that with such a good hospital organization excellent surgery was accomplished. Hernia was Chauliac's specialty, and in it his surgical judgment is admirable Mondeville before his time did not hesitate to say that many operations for hernia were done not for the benefit of the patient, but for the benefit of the surgeon,—a very striking anticipation of remarks that one sometimes hears even at the present time. Chauliac discussed operations for hernia very conservatively. His rule was that a truss should be worn, and no operation attempted unless the patient's life was endangered by the hernia. It is to him that we owe the invention of a well-developed method of taxis, or manipulation of a hernia, to bring about its reduction, which was in use until the end of the nineteenth century. He suggested that trusses could not be made according to rule, but must be adapted to each individual case. He invented several forms of truss himself, and in general it may be said that his manipulative skill and his power to apply his mechanical principles to his work are the most characteristic of his qualities. This is particularly noteworthy in his chapters on fractures and dislocations, in which he suggests various methods of reduction and realizes very practically the mechanical difficulties that were to be encountered in the correction of the deformities due to these pathological conditions. In a word, we have a picture of the skilled surgeon of the modern time in this treatise of a fourteenth-century teacher of surgery.
Chauliac discusses six different operations for the radical cure of hernia. As Gurlt points out, he criticises them from the same standpoint as that of recent surgeons. The object of radical operations for hernia is to produce a strong, firm tissue support over the ring through which the cord passes, so that the intestines cannot descend through it. It is rather interesting to find that the surgeons of this time tried to obliterate the canal by means of the cautery, or inflammation producing agents, arsenic and the like, a practice that recalls some methods still used more or less irregularly. They also used gold wire, which was to be left in the tissues and is supposed to protect and strengthen the closure of the ring. At this time all these operations for the radical cure of hernia involved the sacrifice of the testicle because the old surgeons wanted to obliterate the ring completely, and thought this the easiest way. Chauliac discusses the operation in this respect and says that he has seen many cases in which men possessed of but one testicle have procreated, and this is a case where the lesser of two evils is to be chosen.
Of course Guy de Chauliac would not have been able to operate so freely on hernia and suggest, following his own experience, methods of treatment of penetrating wounds of the abdomen only that he had learned the lessons of antiseptic surgery which had been gradually developed among the great surgeons of Italy during the preceding century. The use of the stronger wines as a dressing together with insistence on the most absolute cleanliness of the surgeon before the operation, and careful details of cleanliness during the operation, made possible the performance of many methods of surgical intervention that would otherwise surely have been fatal. Probably nothing is harder to understand than that after these practical discoveries men should have lost sight of their significance, and after having carefully studied the viscous exudation which produces healthy natural union, should have come to the thought of the necessity for the formation of laudable pus before union might be expected. The mystery is really no greater than that of many another similar incident in human history, but it strikes us more forcibly because the discovery and gradual development of antiseptic surgery in our own time has meant so much for us. Already even in Chauliac's practice, however, some of the finer elements of the technique that made surgery antiseptic to a marked degree, if not positively aseptic in many cases, were not being emphasized as they were by his predecessors, and there was a beginning of surgical meddlesomeness reasserting itself.
It must not be thought, however, that it was only with the coarse applications of surgery that Chauliac concerned himself. He was very much interested in the surgical treatment of eye diseases and wrote a monograph on cataract, in which he gathers what was known before his time and discusses it in the light of his own experience. The writing of such a book is not so surprising at this time if we recall that in the preceding century the famous Pope John XXI, who had been a physician before he became Pope, and under the name of Peter of Spain was looked up to as one of the distinguished scientists of his time, had written a book on eye diseases that has recently been the subject of much attention.
Pope John had much to say of cataract, dividing it into traumatic and spontaneous, and suggesting the needling of cataract, a gold needle being used for the purpose. Chauliac's method of treating cataract was by depression. His care in the selection of patients may be appreciated from his treatment of John of Luxembourg, King of Bavaria, blind from cataract, who consulted Chauliac in 1336 while on a visit to Avignon with the King of France. Chauliac refused to operate, however, and put off the King with dietary regulations.
In the chapter on John of Arcoli and Medieval Dentistry we call attention to the fact that Chauliac discussed dental surgery briefly, yet with such practical detail as to show very clearly how much more was known about this specialty in his time than we have had any idea of until recent years. He recognized the dentists as specialists, calls them dentatores, but thinks that they should operate under the direction of a physician—hence the physician should know much about teeth and especially about their preservation. He enumerates instruments that dentists should have and shows very clearly that the specialty had reached a high state of development. A typical example of Chauliac's common sense and dependence on observation and not tradition is to be found in what he has to say with regard to methods of removing the teeth without the use of extracting instruments. It is characteristic of his method of dealing with traditional remedies, even