Human Element
Deaths in British Army Hospitals: 1812-1815
Life in the British Navy
Napoleonic Surgery
Medical Hygiene
Medical Evacuations
"The Flying Ambulance"
Baron Dominique-Jean Larrey
Bonaparte's Demise
British Medical Services

Venesection was an interesting, and often lethal therapy.

Venesection is used by the thought that if you could "reduce" the circulation of the patient with wounding or sepsis. Many different sicknesess were not understood and there was no knowledge of bacteria.  So venesection was often done, going by the rationale that in order to control sepsis, you must bled the patient if he is to survive. 
The patient was repeatedly bled, often 20-30 fluid ozs. at a time.  The patient was bled locally, at the site of the inflammation, or at the antecubital fossa.  The techniques varied: lancing, leeching, scarification, and cup-ping of sites, depending on where your were wounded.  The dangers of venesection were infection, damage to tendons and nerves, and the loss of excess quantities of blood and resultant anaemia.  Frequently used were the single or mulit-blade scarifications, and the lancet.
The technique usually involved an oblique incision in the vein, measuring between 1/4" to 1/8".  When, as usually done, a lancet was used the forefinger and thumb of the surgeon would hold and control the tip of the blade, to make a controlled "nick" in the vessel wall.  The calibrated pewter, brass, or tin bleeding bowl would then be held against the elbow, and the requisite amount of blood collected.  Leeches were employed by physicians and surgeons, to bleed patients, or their parts.  Usually 20-30 of them were applied to the appropriate area.  They were usually carried in pewter or tin boxes.

The technique of venessection at the arm

MARCH 2005

Term Project
Abraham Schreier
Mr. Crowley
Honors World History
March 2005