Background: The first reliable statistic data about perioperatory mortality were published in 1841 by the French Joseph-Francois Malgaigne (1806-1863): he referred to a mean mortality of 60% for amputations and this bad result was to be attributed mainly to hospital acquired diseases. The idea of "hospital acquired disease" although vague, included five infective nosologic entities, which at that time were diagnosed more frequently: erysipelas, tetan, pyemia, septicemia, and gangrene. Nonetheless, the suppuration with pus production was considered from most of the surgeons and doctors of that time as a necessary and unavoidable step in the process of wound healing. During the end of the eighteenth century, hospitals of the main European cities were transforming into aggregations of several wards, where the high concentration of patients created poor sanitary conditions and a consistent increase of perioperatory mortality. In 1865, Lister applied his first antiseptic dressing on the surface of an exposed fracture. These experimental attempts lead to an effective reduction of wound infections respect to the dressing with strings used previously. Discussion: Lister's innovations in the field of wound treatment were based on two brand new concepts: germs causing rot were ubiquitarious and the wound infection was not a normal step in the process of wound healing. The concept of antisepsis was hardly accepted in the European surgical world: "Of all countries, Italy is the most indifferent and uninterested in experimenting this method, which has been so favorably judged from the greatest surgical societies in Germany". This quotation from the young surgeon Giuseppe Ruggi (1844-1925) from Bologna comes from his article where he presented his first experiences on aseptic medications started the previous year in the Surgical Department of Maggiore Hospital in Bologna. In his report, Ruggi described the adopted technique and suggested that the medication should be extended to all the surgical patients of the hospital:". this is needed to totally remove from the hospital all those elements of infection which grow in the wounds dressed with the old method". The experimentation of this new dressing for the few treated cases was rigorous and concerned both the sterilization of surgical tools with the fenic acid (5%) and the shaving of the skin. Ruggi also observed that there was no correlation between the seriousness of the wound and its extension or way of healing: when "simple" cases that "should heal without complication" showed fever he often realized that "it was often due to a medication performed without following the rules for an accurate disinfection and dressing". Ruggi thought that the fever was connected to "reabsorption of pyrogenic substances, which can be removed cleaning and disinfecting the wound" in cases of wounds not accurately dressed and rarely medicated. Frequent postoperative medications of the wound were able to eliminate the fever within 2 h. Ruggi's attitude toward the fine reasoning lead him to introduce the concept of immunodeficiency related to physical deterioration: ". patients treated for surgical disease may sometimes suffer from complications of medical conditions, which initially escape the most accurate investigations. The surgical operation could, in some cases, hold the balance of power". Conclusions: The obtained results, published in 1879, appear extremely interesting. As he wrote in 1898, for the presentation of his case record of more than 1000 laparotomies, he had started "... operating as a young surgeon without any tutor, helped only by his mind and what he could deduce from publications existing at the moment ...".
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