Carbolic steam spray, c 1867.
3 2 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 24cm

Carbolic steam spray, c 1867.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Carbolic steam spray made by D Marr and used by Joseph Lister (1827-1912), English surgeon and founder of antiseptic surgery. In 1865, Lister first started to experiment in antiseptic surgery by using carbolic acid, a well known disinfectant, to soak his surgical gauzes and instruments. This allowed surgeons to be able to carry out complex surgery without patients developing fatal infections. Lister published his theories on an antiseptic system in 1867. He also made important discoveries on the microscopical investigations of inflammation and the coagulation of blood. He was made a baronet in 1883 and became a peer 14 years later.

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