Carbolic acid solution spray, French, 1860-1887.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The spray is signed 'Collin & Cie, 6 Rue de l'Ecole-de-Medicine, Paris' and is a modification by Lucas-Championniere of Joseph Lister's invention. In 1860, Lister introduced the use of antiseptic conditions in operating areas, greatly reducing the risk of the patient's death from infection and blood poisoning following surgery. He discovered that carbolic acid, (which was already used for drain cleaning) could also kill the germs that caused infection in the human body, and stresed the importance of cleanlines during surgery. French surgeons were some of the first to adopt this method of sterilisation.