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15 I have said elsewhere that in those who are dropsical the water ought to be let out: here I must describe how this should be done. Now some make the perforation about four fingers breadth below the navel, and to the left; some make it by perforating the navel itself; some first burn through the skin and then cut into the abdominal cavity, because flesh which has been divided by cautery heals less quickly. Now when entering the knife great care should be taken that no blood vessel is cut into. The knife must be such that its point should be about the third of a finger's breadth, and it should be so entered as to penetrate the membrane separating the flesh from the interior; then a lead or bronze tube should be inserted, either with lips curved back at its outer end, or with a collar round the middle so that the whole of it cannot slip inside. The part of the tube within the abdominal cavity should be a little longer than the part outside, in order that it may project inwards beyond the deeper membrane. Through this tube[p. 385] the humour is let out; and when the greater part has escaped, the tube is to be closed by a lint plug, and left in the wound if it was not burnt with a cautery; then on each of the following days about one hemina is let out, until there appears no trace of fluid. Some, however, even when the skin has not been cauterized, take out the tube forthwith, and then bandage on the wound a squeezed-out sponge; then on the next day they pass in a tube again (which the recent wound admits if it is slightly stretched) in order that any remaining fluid may be let out. They are satisfied when this has been done twice in this manner.
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