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9 There is, however, something special to be said of the rib, because it is near the viscera, and that region is exposed to greater danger. A rib then is sometimes split so as not to injured the upper bone, but only the thin structure on its inner side; sometimes it is completely broken across. If the fracture is incomplete, blood is not expectorated, and fever does not follow, nor is there suppuration except very rarely, nor great pain; nevertheless there is some tenderness to touch, but it is quite enough to do what has been described above, and to begin the bandaging from the middle of the bandage that it may not displace the skin to either side. Then after twenty-one days, by which time the bone other formed a firm union, a fuller diet is to be administered in order to fatten the body as much as possible, so as to cover the bone better, for the bone there whilst still tender is[p. 533] liable to injury owing to the thinness of the skin. But during the whole course of recovery the patient muting or even straining the voice, noise, anger, violent bodily movements, smoke, dust, and anything that causes a cough or sneeze; it is not even advisable to hold the breath for long. But if a rib has been broken right across the case is more severe; for grave inflammations follow and fever and suppuration and often danger to life: and blood is expectorated. If therefore the strength allows, blood should be let from the arm on the side of the injury; if strength does not allow of this the trouble is, however, to be countered by a clyster that will not irritate, and by a low diet for a long while. Bread is not allowed before the seventh day, but only broth; and locally a cerate is to be applied made of linseed, to which boiled resin is added; or the poultice of Polyarchus, or cloths soaked in wine, rose oil and olive oil; and over that oft undressed wool then two bandages beginning from the middle and loosely bound on. But it is more important to avoid all the things mentioned above, so much so that even breathing should not be hurried. If cough is persistent, a draught of germander or rue or French lavender or of cumin and pepper should be taken. But if more severe pain comes on a plaster of darnel or of barley meal is also to be applied, to which is added a third of a ripe first and this will lie upon the place by day; but at night, as the plaster may become displaced, use the same cerate or poultice or cloths as above. Therefore too the dressing must be taken off every day until we find the cerate or poultice suffi-[p. 535]cient. And for ten days the patient may be thinned down by hunger, from the eleventh day he may begin nourishing food; and with that the bandages may be applied round even more loosely than at first; and generally this treatment will continue till the fortieth day. But if there is danger of suppuration, the poultice will be more likely to disperse it than the cerate. If the suppuration gains way, and the treatment above described fails to disperse it, there must be no delay lest the bone underneath become diseased; but where there is most swelling, the red-hot cautery is to be applied until it reaches pus; and that is to be let out. When no pointing of the swelling is evident, we may learn where the pus is chiefly deposited as follows. We smear the whole region with pipe-clay and allow it to dry; the spot where it remains moist the longest marks the neighbourhood of the pus, and there the cautery should be applied. If the suppuration is widely spread, two or three places must be perforated by the cautery. We should then introduce a strip of linen, or some kind of tent bound round with a thread so that it can be easily withdrawn. The rest of the treatment is as in other cauterizations. When the ulceration has cleaned, then the patient should be well fed, lest this disease be followed by what may become fatal wasting. Sometimes even when the bone has been only slightly affected but neglected at first, not pus but a humour somewhat like mucus collects within, and there is a softening under the skin; here also the cauter is to be used. About the spine there is also something special to note. For if a spinal process has in any way been fractured, there is a depression at that spot, also[p. 537] pricking pains are felt in it, because such fragments are necessarily spiky; this consequently makes the patient lean forwards. These are the signs of the condition; but the same medicaments are required as have been mentioned in the early part of this chapter.
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