In what many of their contemporaries would describe as the science of futility, 19th-Century surgeons were merely grasping at what modern day doctors are capable of doing.
Though the first surgery employing anesthetic wasn’t successful until 1846, this didn’t keep doctors from studying human anatomy. The Wellcome Library in England has a large library of early surgical drawing dating back to ancient Egypt.
The following surgical illustrations were made prior to mainstream anesthesia, meaning their findings were discovered without the ability to keep patients from feeling what was happening.
WARNING! THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS ARE GRAPHIC
How’s It Made
While these may seem overly grisly, do keep in mind that surgeons long studied cadavers before practicing on people, and they were able to learn much about basic human anatomy this way.
Though anesthetics weren’t used until the mid-1800s, analgesics—painkillers—have been used since time immemorial. While an analgesic reduces pain, a patient can still feel what’s going on. An anesthetic removes all sensation.