Operating Room

Stannington was awaiting the completion of its brand new operating theatre in January 1930 with hopes that it would be one of the most modern in the country and just a few years later in 1936 their publicity brochure boasts a modern theatre where all necessary operative work can be done on the premises. A wide range of different procedures were used to treat TB in the Stannington patients, some more drastic than others.

There were a number of procedures available to treat pulmonary TB, most common manifestation of the disease. These were all based on the principle of resting the affected area of the lung by forcing its collapse. Artificial pneumothorax treatment was regularly used and saw the lung forcibly collapsed by inserting air into the pleural cavity (the gap between the lung and the chest wall), and similarly pneumoperitoneum placed pressure on the lung from below by inserting air into the peritoneal cavity.

TB can affect the skin and cause ulcers and underlying infection in the bones and soft tissues and lead to the formation of abscesses. The treatment of these problems arising as a result of the primary infection which was often elsewhere was quite commonplace, and many children would have had abscesses drained and soft tissue scraped out with a curette to remove the infection.

After Mr Johnston, the visiting surgeon, retired in 1944 it looks like many of the children were transferred to larger hospitals, such as the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, for larger operative procedures. These included amputations and arthrodesis, which involved the use of a bone graft to realign the hip joint. Within the collection there is a register of operations that were carried out during the period 1934-1944, these were all undertaken by Mr Johnston and we see the range of procedures taking place.


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