Dr. Nicholas Senn is a surgeon who inflated his patients with hydrogen

Dr. Nicholas Senn is a surgeon who inflated his patients with hydrogen

Categories: Health and Medicine | History

Medical ethics forbids inflating patients, unless we are talking about the direct meaning of this word. American surgeon Nicholas Senn, inflating his patients with hydrogen through the anus, saved many lives on the battlefields.

Dr. Nicholas Senn is a surgeon who inflated his patients with hydrogen

Nicholas Senn, a military surgeon and founder of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, was the chief surgeon of the Sixth Army Corps during the short Spanish-American War in 1898. Abdominal wounds have always been considered the most difficult to treat, not least because of the complex diagnosis of injuries.

Dr. Nicholas Senn is a surgeon who inflated his patients with hydrogen

Nicholas Sen came up with a simple, though crazy, at first glance, idea — to use the method of plumbers or tire repair shop workers to search for intestinal damage. The surgeon decided that if you inflate a person with harmless gas, running it through the anus, you can find out whether the external wound is connected with intestinal damage or not.

For these purposes, hydrogen was ideally suited, which is available, non-toxic and does not irritate the mucous membranes. Another advantage of this volatile gas was its high flammability — it is always possible to detect a minimal leak with the help of an ordinary burning match. In addition to detecting holes invisible to the eye, pumping with hydrogen had another important advantage — when the gas ignited, the wound was disinfected qualitatively, which was important in a field hospital.

Dr. Senn decided to test his invention on dogs. For the sake of the triumph of science, the unfortunate animals were tied to operating tables, anesthetized, and then shot in the stomach with a revolver. After that, a hose was inserted into the dog's anus and hydrogen was supplied under pressure. If any intestine was damaged, a gas leak occurred, which the surgeon, who conducted the examination with a burning match, immediately noticed by the flaring flame.

Dr. Nicholas Senn is a surgeon who inflated his patients with hydrogen

Nicholas Senn in the operating room

The method worked, but a person is not at all like a dog and it was necessary to make sure that the gas injected into a person would not cause poisoning. Therefore, Nicholas Senn decided to test the effect of hydrogen on the gastrointestinal tract on himself. In his work diary , the surgeon made the following entry:

After Dr. Senn was convinced of the safety of hydrogen when injected into the intestine, the first surgical operation using gas was performed. A 27-year-old black man, wounded in the stomach, died during the operation, but this was not due to the introduction of hydrogen. During the operation, the effectiveness of Senna's invention was confirmed and it was decided to use the method in military hospitals.

Dr. Nicholas Senn is a surgeon who inflated his patients with hydrogen

There was plenty of hydrogen in the armies of the late XIX — early XX centuries, as balloons were filled with this gas

The method of Nicholas Senna entered the medical practice of doctors in many countries and was widely used before the introduction of X-ray machines. But this doctor is known not only for his innovative way of diagnosis. Senn had a serious impact on the development of world surgery, and not only military.The doctor was an active supporter of early surgical intervention in appendicitis, which significantly reduced the risk of complications. He also insisted that first aid to the wounded should be provided directly on the battlefield as quickly and professionally as possible. Nicholas Senna has always believed that the German soldier's saying "The fate of the wounded depends on who puts the first bandage" has the most serious reasons.

Senna's method, though it seems strange and barbaric, nevertheless worked and saved lives. At all times, there have been many smart and resourceful people in military medicine who have moved this incredibly important science forward, despite the lack of knowledge and lack of technology.

Keywords: Diagnosis | Abdomen | Treatment | Operating room | Injury | Usa | Surgery

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