|'Temporary field hospital behind the second Prussian parallel at Duppel: |
scene in the amputating-hut - from a sketch by our special artist’,
Illustrated London News (May 7 1864)
Zola’s novel La Débâcle has this grim description of the surgical removal of a wounded soldier’s arm in an improvised field hospital during the Franco-Prussian war. Many would not have survived the operation for long.
Lisfranc’s method, which surgeons never fail to speak of as a “very pretty” operation, something neat and expeditious, barely occupying forty seconds in the performance.
The patient was subjected to the influence of chloroform, while an assistant grasped the shoulder with both hands, the fingers under the armpit, the thumbs on top.
Bouroche, brandishing the long, keen knife, cried: “Raise him!” seized the deltoid with his left hand and with a swift movement of the right cut through the flesh of the arm and severed the muscle; then, with a deft rearward cut, he disarticulated the joint at a single stroke, and presto! the arm fell on the table, taken off in three motions.
The assistant slipped his thumbs over the brachial artery in such manner as to close it. “Let him down!” Bouroche could not restrain a little pleased laugh as he proceeded to secure the artery, for he had done it in thirty-five seconds.
Émile Zola - La Débâcle (1892)