brwaz' pa rA'] pioneer surgeon
Ambroise Paré was born at
Bourg-Hersent, near Laval, France, in 1509. He
was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon at 13, became
barber-surgeon at the Paris Hotel Dieu at age 19,
and served two stints as a surgeon in the French
Army between 1536 and 1544. In 1545 he began the
study of anatomy at Paris, under Sylvius. Upon
completion of his studies he was appointed field
surgeon by Marshal Rohan. In 1552 he became
surgeon to King Henry II. He died in 1590.
The Treatment of
In the 16th century, gunshot
wounds were classified as contused, burned, and
poisoned, and were routinely treated by being
cauterized with either a red-hot iron or hot oil.
During the Battle of Turin in 1537, Paré ran out
of cauterizing oil and began applying ointment to
the wounds and then bandaging them. Later he
observed that the healing process proceeded much
more favorably under this treatment.
Even with what was then
state-of-the-art treatment, many wounds to a
soldier's arms or legs could only be treated by
amputation of the injured limb. Paré invented
upper and lower extremity prostheses that show
knowledge of basic prosthetic function. "Le
Petit Lorrain," for example, was a hand
operated by springs and catches for a French Army
Captain, which he then used in battle. Paré also
invented an above-knee prosthesis which was a
kneeling peg leg and foot prosthesis. It had a
fixed equinas position, adjustable harness, knee
lock control, and other engineering features used
in today's prostheses.
Vascular ligation, which had
not been practiced since the Alexandrian Era, was
revived by Paré.
In cases of a strangulated
hernia of the groin, Paré performed the
operation now known as a herniotomy. Most of his
contemporaries were reluctant to perform this
surgery, leaving their patients to die in
His treatise on the Treatment
of Gunshot Wounds became so popular that it
was translated from French into Dutch, Italian,
English, German, Spanish, and Japanese. The
Method of Treating Wounds Made by Arquebuses
was also an immediate success.
At the age of 64, Ambroise
Paré married Jacqueline Rousselet, with whom he
had 6 children.
During his career Paré was the
surgeon to four kings -- Henri II, Francis II,
Charles IX, and Henri III -- as well as to Queen
Mother Catherine de Medici.
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