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19 When these lesions have been recognized their treatment must be discussed; in this some methods are common to all, some peculiar to particular kinds. I shall discuss first what is common to all. But I shall now speak of those cases demanding the knife: for those which are incurable, or should be cared for otherwise, will be mentioned as I come to the separate kinds. Now sometimes the inguinal region has to be cut into, sometimes the scrotum. In either case the man for three days[p. 401] before should drink water, and for the day before abstain also from food: on the day itself he must lie on his back; next if the groin has to be cut into, and if the pubes is already covered by hair, this is to be shaved off beforehand: and then after stretching the scrotum, so that the skin of the groin is rendered tense, the cut is made below the abdominal cavity, where the membranes below are continuous with the abdominal wall. Now the laying open is to be done boldly, until the outer tunic, that of the scrotum itself, is cut through, and the middle tunic reached. When an incision has been made, an opening presents leading deeper. Into this the index finger of the right hand is introduced, in order that by the separation of the intervening little membranes the hernial sac may be freed. Next the assistant grasping the scrotum with his left hand should stretch it upwards, and draw it away as far as possible from the groins, at first including the testicle itself until the surgeon cuts away with the scalpel all the fine membranes which are above the middle tunic if he is unable to separate it with his finger; then the testicle is let go in order that it may slip downwards, and show in the wound and then be pushed out by the surgeon's finger, and laid along with its two tunics upon the abdominal wall. There whatever is diseased is cut round and away, in the course of which many blood vessels are met with; the smaller ones can be summarily divided; but larger ones, to avoid dangerous bleeding, must be first tied with rather long flax thread. If the middle tunic be affected, or the disease has grown beneath it, it will have to be cut away even as high as the actual groin. Lower[p. 403] down, however, not all is to be removed: for at the base of the testicle there is an intimate connexion with the inner tunic, where excision is not possible without extreme danger; and so there it is to be left. The same is to be done if the inner tunic is the seat of the disease. But the cutting away cannot be done quite completely at the inguinal end of the wound, but only somewhat lower down, lest the abdominal membrane be injured and set up inflammation. On the other hand too much of its upper part should not be left behind, lest subsequently there forms a pouch which continues to be the seat of the same malady. The testicle having been thus cleared is to be gently returned through the incision, along with the veins and arteries and its cord; and it must be seen that blood does not drop down into the scrotum, or a clot remain anywhere. This will be accomplished if the surgeon takes the precaution of tying the blood vessels; the threads with which the ends of these are tied should hang out of the wound; following upon suppuration they will fall off painlessly. Through the margins of the wound itself two pins are then passed, and over this an agglutinating dressing. But it becomes necessary sometimes to cut away a little from one or other of the edges of the skin-incisions in order to make a broader and thicker scar. When this occurs the lint dressing must not be pressed on but must be applied lightly, and over it such things as repel inflammation, unscoured wool or sponge soaked in vinegar; all the other treatment is the same as when suppuratives have to be applied. But when an incision is required lower down, then with the man on his back, the left hand is to[p. 405] be passed under the scrotum; next this must be grasped firmly and the incision made. If the disease is small in extent, the incision is limited, so as to leave intact the lower third of the scrotum in order to support the testicle; if more extensive, the incision is prolonged so that just a little is left at the bottom to support the testicle. But the scalpel at first should be held in a very light hand, with its edge vertical to the skin, until the wall of the scrotum has been divided; then the edge is sloped sideways so as to cut across the membranes between the scrotal wall and the middle tunic. And if the disease is in the wall of the scrotum there is no need to touch the middle tunic; if it also lies under the middle tunic, this too has to be cut through, and the inner tunic as well if that covers the lesion. Now wherever the disease is found to be, the assistant should press the scrotum gently upwards; the surgeon either with his finger, or with the handle of the scalpel, separates the middle tunic from its connexion with the scrotal wall, and brings it forwards; then with a knife, called from its shape 'the raven,' he lays it open so that his index and middle finger can enter. With these fingers so introduced the remainder of the tunic should be brought forwards, and the knife inserted in between the two fingers, and any diseased matter taken away or let out. If one of the tunics has been injured it also should be cut away; the middle one, as stated above, as far up as the groin; the inner one to a little below the groin. But before they are cut away, the blood vessels above too should be ligatured with flax thread, the ends of which are to be left hanging out of the wound, as in the case of other[p. 407] blood vessels that have had to be tied. This done, the testicle is to be replaced inside, and the scrotal margins united by stitches, not too few lest the edges fail to unite and the treatment is prolonged, and not too many lest they augment the inflammation. Here also it must be seen to that no blood remains in the scrotum. Then agglutinants are put on. But if at any time blood trickles down into the scrotum, or any clot collects in it, an incision should be made below, and after clearing out the blood, a sponge soaked in strong vinegar is put on. Further, all such wounds made for the above reasons, after having been bandaged up, when there is no pain, should not be dressed until the fifth day, but the wool or sponge is to be saturated sufficiently with vinegar twice a day; if there is pain, and when pins have been inserted they are then to be taken out; when lint has been used it must be changed and the fresh lint wetted with rose oil and wine. Should inflammation increase, to the previously mentioned applications add a plaster of lentils and honey or of pomegranate rind boiled in dry wine, or of the two combined. If the inflammation does not subside under these applications, after the fifth day the wound is to be fomented freely with hot water, until the scrotum itself both shrinks and becomes wrinkled; then apply a wheat flour plaster with pine resin added; which, for a robust patient has been boiled in vinegar, and for a delicate one in honey. Whatever the application used, there is no doubt that if there is much inflammation, suppuratives must be applied. But if pus collects in the scrotum itself, it must be let out through a small[p. 409] incision; and enough lint must be put on to cover the opening. When the inflammation is at an end, for the sake of the cords first the plaster and then a cerate is to be used. Such is the proper treatment of wounds of this sort. For the rest as regards both treatment and diet, these should conform to what has been prescribed for other sorts of wounds.
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