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29 Again when a woman has conceived, if the foetus, already nearly at term, dies inside and cannot get out of itself, an operation must be done, which may be counted among the most difficult; for it requires both extreme caution and neatness, and entails very great risk. But this shows, and not this only, how marvellous beyond all else is the woman. To begin with then the woman should be placed on her back across the bed, so that the iliac regions are compressed by her own thighs; by this means both her hypogastrium is in full view of the surgeon and the foetus is forced towards the mouth[p. 457] of the womb. This, after the death of the foetus contracts, but later on usually dilates a little. The surgeon making use of this opportunity should first insert the index finger of his greased hand, and keep it there until the mouth is opened again, and then he should insert a second finger, and the other fingers on the like opportunity, until the whole hand can be put in. To allow of this, much depends both on the size of the vagina, and the resistance of its sinewy tissues, and the patient's constitution, and also her strength of mind, especially since on occasion even both hands have to be passed in. It is also important that the hypogastrium and extremities should be kept very warm, that inflammation should not have begun, but that the treatment should be adopted without delay. For if the abdomen is already distended, the hand cannot be inserted nor can the foetus be extracted without the greatest suffering, and fatal spasm of the sinews often follows, accompanied by vomiting and tremor. But when the hand has reached the dead foetus its position is immediately felt. For it lies head on or feet foremost, or crosswise; generally, however, so that there is either a hand or foot within reach. It is the object now of the surgeon to direct it with his hand either into a head or even into a foot presentation, if it happens to be presenting otherwise: and if there is no other course, when a hand or foot is grasped, the trunk is straightened: for grasping a hand converts the presentation into a head one, grasping a foot into a foot presentation. Then if the head is nearest, a hook must be inserted which is completely smooth, with a short point, and this it is right to fix into an eye or ear or the mouth, even at times into the forehead, then this is pulled upon and extracts the foetus. But not every moment is proper for the extraction; for should this be attempted when the mouth of the womb is contracted, as there is no way out, the foetus is torn[p. 459] away from the hook, and its point then slips into the mouth of the womb itself; and there follows spasm of the sinews and great risk of death. Therefore whilst the mouth is contracted we should wait, and draw gently on the hook when it dilates, and so at these opportunities gradually extract the foetus. Now the right hand should pull the hook whilst the left is inserted within and pulls the foetus, and at the same time guides it. It also often happens that such a foetus is distended by fluid, and from it a foul sanies discharges. If so, the abdomen of the foetus is bored into by the index finger, when by escape of the fluid, the foetus is made smaller; then it is gently to be delivered by the hands alone. For if a hook is inserted it readily slips out of the soft little body, when the danger noted above is incurred. If the foetus has been turned to present by the feet it is also not difficult to extract; for the feet are grasped by the doctor's hands, and it is readily drawn out. But if the foetus is lying crosswise and cannot be turned straight, the hook is to be inserted into an armpit and traction slowly made; during this the neck is usually bent back, and the head turned backwards to the rest of the foetus. The remedy then is to cut through the neck, in order that the two parts may be extracted separately. This is done with a hook which resembles the one mentioned above, but has all its inner edge sharp. Then we must proceed to extract the head first, then the rest, for if the larger portion be extracted first, the head slips back into the cavity of the womb, and cannot be extracted without the greatest risk. Should this, however, happen, a folded pad is placed upon the woman's hypogastrium, and then[p. 461] a man strong, but not untrained, must stand on her left side, and place his two hands over the hypogastrium and press one over the other so that the head is forced to the mouth of the womb, when it must be extracted by the hook as described above. But if one foot presents whilst the other remains behind with the trunk, anything which has been drawn out must be cut away piecemeal; and if the buttocks begin to engage in the mouth of the womb they are to be pushed back and the foot of the foetus found and then drawn forwards. There are also other difficulties, which make it necessary to cut up and extract a foetus which does not come out whole. Now as soon as the foetus has been extracted it should be handed to the assistant to hold on his upturned hands, and the surgeon with his left hand must draw gently upon the navel cord, so as not to rupture it, whilst he passes his right hand along it up to what they called the secundines, which was the envelope of the foetus within the womb. When his hand has grasped the secundines including the whole of the blood vessels and membranes he brings them down from the womb in the same manner, and extracts the whole together with any retained blood clot. Then when the thighs have been tied together the woman is put to bed in a moderately warm room, which is free from draughts. Over the hypogastrium is placed greasy wool dipped in vinegar and rose oil. The rest of the treatment followed is the same as for inflammation and for wounds which are in the sinews.
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