Bullet extractors and amputation saws, 17th-18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The use of gunpowder increased in the 15th century, and this affected medicine because wounds caused by guns and cannon were different to those made by swords and arrows. New instruments were devised to extract bullets (many people believed bullet wounds were poisonous). Prior to the invention of antiseptics, amputation was often the treatment of first rather than last resort, to prevent infection spreading through the body from injuries and wounds.