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Part 50

But when there is contusion of the flesh about the ribs, either from a blow, or a fall, or a bruise, or any like cause, there is often copious vomiting of blood, for there are canals stretched along the vacuity of each rib (intercostal space?), and nerves proceeding from the most important parts of the body have their origin there. Many of these, therefore, are troubled with coughs, tubercles, empyema, external suppurations, and sphacelus of the [p. 248]ribs. And even when no such symptoms supervene from contusion of the skin about the ribs, still in such cases there is, generally, more combined pain than in fractures of the ribs, and relapses of pain in the seat of the injury are more apt to occur. Wherefore some physicians pay much less attention to such injuries, than where the rib is fractured, whereas, if they were wise, they would treat such cases with far greater care than the other; for it is proper that the diet should be restricted, that the patients should remain at rest as much as possible, and abstain from venery, from fat articles of food, from such as excite cough, and from everything strong; they should be bled in the arm, speak as little as possible, should have the contused part bound round with folded compresses, plenty of bandages, broader than the contusion, and which should be smeared with cerate; in applying the bandages, broad and soft shawls should be used, and they should be put on moderately firm, so that the patient will say that they are neither too tight nor loose, and the bandaging should commence at the seat of the injury, and be made more particularly tight there, and the bandaging should be conducted as is done with a double-headed roller, so that the skin about the ribs may not be ruffled, but may lie smooth, and the bandaging should be renewed every day, or every alternate day. It is better also to open the bowels with some gentle medicine, so as just to produce an evacuation of the food, and the diet is to be restricted for ten days, and then the body is to be recruited and filled up; while you are upon the reducing system, the bandaging should be tighter, but when you are making him up again, it must be looser; and, if he spit blood from the commencement, the treatment and bandaging should be continued for forty days; but if there be no haemoptysis, treatment for twenty days will generally be sufficient; but the length of time must be regulated by the magnitude of the injury. When such contusions are neglected, if no greater mischief result there from, at all events the bruised part has its flesh more pulpy than it had formerly. When, therefore, any such thing is left behind, and is not properly dissipated by the treatment, it will be worse if the mucosity be lodged near the bone, for the flesh no longer adheres to the bone [p. 249]as formerly, the bone becomes diseased, and chronic sloughings of the bone in many cases arise from such causes. But if the mischief be not upon the bone, but it is the flesh itself which is pulpy, relapses and pains will return from time to time, if there happen to be any disorder in the body; wherefore proper bandaging, and for a considerable time, must be had recourse to, until the extravasated blood forming in the bruise be dried up and absorbed, and the part be made up with sound flesh, and the flesh adhere to the bone. The best cure is the cautery in those cases which, from neglect, have become chronic, and the place turns painful, and the flesh is pulpy. And when the flesh itself is pulpy, the burning should be carried as far as the bone, but the bone itself should not be heated; but if it be in the intercostal space, you need not make the burning so superficial, only you must take care not to burn quite through. But if the contusion appear to be at the bone, if it be still recent, and the bone has not yet become necrosed, if it be very small, it is to be burned as has been described; but if the rising along the bone be oblong, several eschars are to be burned over it. Necrosis of the rib will be described along with the treatment of suppurating sores.

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