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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Joseph Lister and antiseptics


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Weltrundschau zu Reclams Universum


Joseph Lister (1827-1912) was an English surgeon best known for his pioneering work in antiseptic surgery. Physician Clifford Allbutt said,


"Lister saw the vast importance of the discoveries of Pasteur. He saw it because he was watching on the heights, and he was watching there alone." (The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911)


Wikipedia says,


"Applying Louis Pasteur's advances in microbiology, Lister championed the use of carbolic acid as an antiseptic, so that it became the first widely used antiseptic in surgery." (Wikipedia: Joseph Lister, 8.21.21 UTC 12:37)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Lister.




"Bearing in mind that it is from the vitality of the atmospheric particles that all the mischief arises, it appears that all that is requisite is to dress the wound with some material capable of killing these septic germs, provided that any substance can be found reliable for this purpose, yet not too potent as a caustic." (On a New Method of Treating Compound Fracture, 1867)


"But when it has been shown by the researches of Pasteur that the septic property of the atmosphere depended not on the oxygen, or any gaseous constituent, but on minute organisms suspended in it, which owed their energy to their vitality, it occurred to me that decomposition in the injured part might be avoided without excluding the air, by applying as a dressing some material capable of destroying the life of the floating particles. Upon this principle I have based a practice." (On the Antiseptic Principle in the Practice of Surgery, 1867)




"If the love of surgery is a proof of a person's being adapted for it, then certainly I am fitted to be a surgeon; for thou can'st hardly conceive what a high degree of enjoyment I am from day to day experiencing in this bloody and butchering department of the healing art." (Letter to his father, 1853)


"It is our proud office to tend the fleshly tabernacle of the immortal spirit, and our path, rightly followed, will be guided by unfettered truth and love unfeigned." (