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26 Sometimes we are compelled to draw off the urine by hand when it is not passed naturally; either because in an old man the passage has collapsed, or because a stone, or a blood-clot of some sort has formed an obstruction within it; but even a slight inflammation often prevents natural evacuation; and this treatment is needed not only for men but sometimes also for women. For this purpose bronze tubes are made, and the surgeon must have three ready for males and two for females, in order that they may be suitable for every body, large and small: those for males should be the longest, fifteen finger-breadths in length, the medium twelve, the shortest nine; females, the longer nine, the shorter six. They ought to be a little curved, but more so for men, and they should be very smooth and neither too large nor too small. Then the man must be placed on his back, in the way described for anal treatment, on a low seat or couch; while the practitioner stands on his right side, and taking the[p. 427] penis of the male patient in his left hand, with his right hand passes the pipe into the urethra; and when it has reached the neck of the bladder, the pipe together with the penis is inclined and pushed on right into the bladder; and when the urine has been evacuated, it is taken out again. The woman's urethra is both shorter and straighter, like a nipple placed between the inner labia over the vagina, and this requires assistance no less often though it is attended by somewhat less difficulty. Sometimes too a stone slips into the urethra itself, and lodges not far from its orifice, because this becomes narrower further down. The stone should if possible be extracted either by an earscoop or by the instrument with which a stone is drawn out in the course of lithotomy. If this cannot be done, the foreskin is drawn as far forwards as possible over the glans and tied there by a thread. Then to one side of the penis a longitudinal incision is to be made and the stone taken out, after which the prepuce is released. This is done in this way so that an intact portion of skin covers the incision into the penis, and urine flows out naturally. Now that mention has been made of the bladder and of stone, this seems the proper place to describe what treatment is to be adopted in cases of calculus, when it is impossible otherwise to afford relief; but it is most inadvisable to undertake it hastily, since it is very dangerous. This operation is not suitable for every season or at any age or for every lesion, but it must be used in the spring alone, in a boy who is not less than nine years of age and not more than fourteen, and if the disease is so bad that it cannot be relieved by medicaments, or[p. 429] endured by the patient without shortly bringing his life to a close. Sometimes even a rash line of treatment is successful, but it generally disappoints, especially in this sort of case, where the types and seasons of danger are very numerous, and these I will describe along with the treatment itself. Therefore when it has been decided to make trial of this last resource, for some days beforehand the patient's body is to be prepared by dieting, so that he takes a moderate amount of food which is wholesome, and not glutinous, and drinks water. Meanwhile he should also take walking-exercise to encourage the stone to descend to the neck of the bladder. Whether this has happened is recognized by the insertion of the finger, as I shall point out in the course of the treatment. When that is assured and the boy has been kept fasting from the previous day, then the operation is carried out in a warm room, and in the following manner. A strong and well-trained man, seated on a high stool, seizes the boy from behind and draws him backwards until his buttocks rest on the man's knees. When the boys' legs have been drawn up, the man orders him to put his hands behind his knees, and to pull upon them as much as he can, and at the same time the man keeps them in this position. But if a stronger person is to be treated, two strong men are seated on stools, side by side, and both the stools and the adjacent legs of the men are lashed together, so that they cannot be separated. Then the patient is seated in the same way as above upon the knees of the two men; and according to their position, one man takes hold of the patient's left leg, the other of the right, whilst at the same[p. 431] time the patient pulls upon his own hams. Whether one or two men hold the patient, they press downwards with their chests upon the patient's shoulders. Hence it results that the hollow between the iliac regions above the pubes is outstretched without any folds, and as the bladder is crammed into a narrow space the calculus can easily be seized hold of. In addition, moreover, two strong men should be put to stand at the sides, and they by standing there prevent the man or men who holding the boy from slipping. Then the surgeon having carefully pared his nails and anointed his left hand, gently introduces two fingers, the index and the middle, first one and then the other, into the anus; next he places the fingers of his right hand upon the hypogastrium, but lightly, lest if the two sets of fingers should press around the calculus with any force, the bladder may be injured. And in this procedure we must not act with haste, as in most cases, but so that safety is the first consideration; for an injury to the bladder causes spasm with danger of death. And the stone is first sought for about the neck of the bladder; when found there it is expelled with less trouble. And this is why I said there should be no operation except when the stone has been recognized by its special signs. But if the stone is not found at the neck of the bladder, or if it has slipped backwards, the fingers are placed against the base of the bladder, while the surgeon's right hand too is placed above the stone and gradually follows it downwards. When the stone has been found, and it must fall between his hands, it is guided downwards with special care the smaller and the smoother it is, lest it escape. This is that the bladder may not[p. 433] be too often disturbed. Therefore the right hand of the surgeon is always kept above the stone whilst the fingers of the left press it downwards until it arrives at the neck of the bladder: and it must be pressed towards this so that if oblong, it comes out end on; if flat it lies crossways; if cubical, it rests on two of its angles; if any part is larger, the smaller part comes out first. In the case of a spherical stone, it is clear that the shape makes no difference, except that if any part is the smoother this should be in front. When the stone has now got there, then the skin over the neck of the bladder next the anus should be incised by a semilunar cut, the horns of which point towards the hips; then a little lower down in that part of the incision which is concave, a second cut is to be made under the skin, at a right angle to the first, to open up the neck of the bladder until the urinary passage is opened so that the wound is a little larger than the stone. For those who make a small opening for fear of a fistula, which in this situation the Greeks call rhyas, incur this same danger to a greater degree, because the stone, when it is pressed down with force, makes a way out for itself unless it is given one. And this is even more harmful if the shape of the stone or its roughness has caused any additional trouble. As a consequence bleeding and spasm may be set up. And even if the patient survives he will have, nevertheless, a much wider fistula if the neck of the bladder has been torn, than he would have had if it had been cut. Now when the urethra has been laid open, the stone comes into view; its colour is of no importance. If it is small, it can be pushed outwards with the fingers[p. 435] on one side, and extracted by those on the other. If large, we must put over the upper part of it the scoop made for the purpose. This is thin at the end, beaten out into a semicircular shape, smooth on the outer side, where it comes into contact with the body, rough on the inner where it touches the stone. The scoop must be rather long, for a short one has not the strength to extract. When the scoop has been put in, it should be moved to each side to see whether the stone is held, because if it has been well grasped, it is moved with the scoop. This is required lest when the scoop begins to be drawn forward, the stone should slip inwards and the scoop cut into and lacerate the wound opening, and I have noted above how dangerous this is. When it is certain that the stone is sufficiently held, almost simultaneously a triple movement is to be made; first towards each side, then outwards, this in such a way that the movement is gentle and the stone is at first drawn outwards but little; this done the one end is to be raised so that the scoop may stay further in, and more easily draw out the stone. But if at any time the stone cannot be properly caught from above, it will have to be taken hold of from one side. This is the simplest method of operation. But various contingencies call for some further observations. There are some stones which are not merely rough but also spinous, which if they have come down to the neck of the bladder of their own accord may be extracted without any danger. But it is not safe to search for these within the bladder and draw them out, for when they have wounded the bladder they cause a speedy death from spasm, and much more[p. 437] so if a spinous stone sticks to the bladder, and when being drawn down has folded it over. Now it may be inferred that the stone is at the neck of the bladder, when the patient has difficulty in passing water: or that the stone is spinous, when he passes bloody urine in drops. And it is most important that the calculus should be felt under the fingers, and that the operation should not be proceeded with unless this is assured. And then too the fingers must be applied gently, lest they wound by pressing forcibly: the incision is then made. Many use a scalpel here also. Since this is rather weak, and may meet some projecting part of the stone, and while cutting the flesh over the projection fail to divide what is in the hollow beneath, but leave something which necessitates a second operation. Meges made a straight blade, with a wide border on its upper part, semicircular and sharp below. This knife, with its handle grasped between the two fingers, index and middle, and the thumb put into the back of the blade, was so pressed down that any projection upon the stone might be cut through along with the flesh. By this means it followed that he made one opening of a sufficient size. But in whatever way the neck of the bladder is laid open, any rough stone should be extracted gently, and no force used to hasten matters. A sandy stone is made evident before the operation by the sandy urine which is passed, and in the course of it, since it does not present a uniform resistance to the fingers in the rectum, and in addition it breaks up. Again soft stones and those composed of numerous small ones which only lightly adhere together, are indicated when the urine[p. 439] shows scalelike particles. All these should be brought out gently by changing as before the position of the fingers in turn, without injury to the bladder, yet so as not to leave behind in it any scattered remnants which will render the after-treatment difficult. When anything of this kind comes into view it is to be extracted by the fingers or scoop. And if there are several stones they are to be extracted one by one, but if a very small stone remains over it had better be left. For it is difficult to find it in the bladder, or when found it easily escapes again. In such a prolonged search the bladder is injured and fatal inflammations set up; so that some who have not been operated on have died after the bladder has been for a long while and in vain pushed about by the fingers. There is the additional reason that a small stone is later moved forward with the urine into the wound and so removed. If, however, at any time the stone appears too large to extract without tearing the neck of the bladder, it is to be split up; hence Ammonius the inventor of this process was surnamed lithotomus. This is done as follows: the scoop is passed over the stone, so that it easily keeps hold of the stone, even when it is struck; next an instrument is used of moderate thickness, its front end tapering yet blunt, and when this is put against the calculus, and its other end struck, it splits up the stone, great care being taken that the instrument does not come into contact with the bladder itself, and that no fragment from the broken calculus cuts into it. Now these operations are similar in females too, yet there are some particulars to be mentioned [p. 441]about them. Since in women when the stone is small, the use of the knife is unnecessary because the stone is forced by the urine into the neck of the bladder which is shorter and more yielding in females than in males. Therefore the stone often escapes of itself, and if it sticks in the first part, which is narrower, yet it may be extracted by the scoop described above without any harm. But for larger stones the treatment is the same. Except that in the case of a virgin the fingers are passed as in males, in the case of a woman into the vagina. Then the incision is to be made in a virgin just under the left labium, in a woman between the urethra and pubic bone, and in both instances by a transverse wound. There is no need to be frightened if there is freer bleeding from a woman. When the stone has been extracted, if the patient is strong and has not suffered excessively, it is well to let the bleeding go on, so that less inflammation may follow. Besides it is not unfitting for him to move about a little, in order that any blood clot still inside may drop out. But if again the bleeding does not cease of its own accord, it must be stopped lest all his strength be used up; and in weaker patients this is to be done immediately after the operation; since just as there is the risk of spasm from pushing about the bladder, so there is a second danger that in the absence of medicaments so much blood may be lost as to prove fatal. To prevent this the patient should be seated in a bath of strong vinegar to which a little salt has been added; under this treatment the bleeding generally stops, and it also has an astringent effect on the bladder so that the inflammation there is lessened. But if this[p. 443] is not successful, cups are to be applied on groins and hips and above the pubes. As soon as sufficient blood has been drawn away or the bleeding checked, the patient should be so placed on his back that his head is low, his hips a little raised; and two or three layers of linen soaked in vinegar are to be applied over the wound. Then after two hours he should be put into a hip bath and lean back in the hot water, so that the water covers him from his knees to his navel, while the rest of his body is wrapped up, except that his hands and feet are exposed, in order that he may be less exhausted and remain in the bath longer: the usual result is free sweating. And his mouth and face must be wiped with a sponge from time to time, and an end put to this hot bath whenever it becomes harmful by weakening the patient. Afterwards the patient is freely rubbed with oil, and a dressing of soft wool applied, soaked in warm oil, covering the pubes and hips and groins as well as the wound itself, which had previously been covered with a similar dressing, but of lint. From time to time this dressing is to be saturated with the warm oil in order that cold may not reach the bladder, and that the sinews may be gently softened. Some make use of heating plasters; these do more harm by their weight pressing upon the bladder, and by irritating the wound, than they do good by their heating. For the same reason not even a bandage is required. On the next day if there is difficulty in breathing, if urine is not passed, if the region about the pubes swells prematurely it may be recognized that a blood clot has collected in the bladder; for this the fingers are introduced into the rectum as before and the bladder stroked gently so as to break up[p. 445] clots; thus they subsequently escape by the wound. It is not inappropriate to inject vinegar mixed with soda into the bladder through the wound by means of an ear syringe, for in this way also clotted blood is broken up; and it is proper to do this even on the first day if we are afraid that there is a clot inside, especially when weakness prevents the patient from moving about to eliminate it. The treatment afterwards is the same, sitting in a hot bath, a pad and wool prepared as before as dressings. But a boy should not be put so often into the hot water nor kept in so long as an adolescent; a weak patient as a robust one; one with a slight inflammation as one severely inflamed; a patient with a relaxed body as one in good tone. Meanwhile, if the patient sleeps and breathes regularly and his tongue is moist and there is only moderate thirst and the hypogastrium is flat, if there is not much pain and but moderate fever, we may assume that the treatment is doing well. In such cases the inflammation generally ends on the fifth or seventh day; when it has passed off, the hip bath becomes unnecessary; whilst the patient is on his back the wound is just to be fomented enough with hot water to wash away any urine that irritates. Now the medicaments to be applied should be suppuratives, and if the wound seems to need cleaning, it is to be smeared with honey, or if that irritates it can be tempered with rose oil. The nine-drug plaster seems the most suitable at this stage of the treatment for it contains both suet as a suppurative, and honey to clean the wound, also marrow, best from a calf; its contents are particularly efficient in preventing the establishment of a fistula. But lint at this period is not to be[p. 447] applied directly to the wound, but it may be properly put on over medicaments to keep them in place. When, however, the wound is clean, it is to be healed by applying plain lint. During this period, however, when the course of the treatment has not gone well, various dangers arise. These may be expected: if there is persistent insomnia, laboured breathing, a dry tongue, great thirst, a distended hypogastrium; if the wound gapes; if the urine as it escapes does not irritate the wound; if there is some livid discharge by night and day alike before the third day; if the patient does not answer or replies slowly; if there are severe pains; if after the fifth day high fever oppresses the patient and a distaste for food persists; if he finds more ease by lying on his stomach. But the worst complication is spasm of the sinews and bilious vomiting before the ninth day. But when there is danger of inflammation the best treatment is by abstinence, food in small quantities and at stated intervals, and at the same time fomentations and the other things described above.
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