6 doctors weighed in:

Why did soldiers in civil war have so many amputations?

6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Marlis Gonzalez fernandez
Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: No antibiotics

There were no antibiotics during the civil war to treat infections after a war injury.
Also the current standards to prevent spreading infection from one person to the other were not in place so if an infection developed an amputation would be done to save the person.

In brief: No antibiotics

There were no antibiotics during the civil war to treat infections after a war injury.
Also the current standards to prevent spreading infection from one person to the other were not in place so if an infection developed an amputation would be done to save the person.
Dr. Marlis Gonzalez fernandez
Dr. Marlis Gonzalez fernandez
Thank
1 comment
Dr. Roxanne Lewis
Surgery prior to anesthetics and antibiotics was a fast and furious event. There was no repairing of blood vessels or microsurgery, and shock and blood loss were huge killers, as was sepsis. Best to chop the limb, cauterize the bleeds, and wrap the stump. Also, most muskets shot a 50 caliber round, which, when hitting flesh, destroys a lot of bone and tissue. It is a big wound.
Dr. Joseph Roosth
Internal Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Infections/Tradition

Main reason was(and please correct me other docs if I am wrong), that infections were rampant.
Our understanding of germ theory was increasing in those days, but penicillin would not arrive until 1928. With no way to adequately clean or sterilize wounds other than burning, amputation was the only option. Cannon balls were the other cause of lost limbs.

In brief: Infections/Tradition

Main reason was(and please correct me other docs if I am wrong), that infections were rampant.
Our understanding of germ theory was increasing in those days, but penicillin would not arrive until 1928. With no way to adequately clean or sterilize wounds other than burning, amputation was the only option. Cannon balls were the other cause of lost limbs.
Dr. Joseph Roosth
Dr. Joseph Roosth
Thank
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