World War I: the birth of plastic surgery and modern anaesthesia

Necessity is the mother of invention - and so it was for the military doctors faced with the task of healing millions of battlefield injuries

The metrics from World War I are horrific. In all, there were 37 million military and civilian casualties — 16 million dead and 21 million wounded. Never before had a conflict brought such devastation in terms of death and injury.


In response, during the four years of the war, military surgeons developed new techniques on the battlefield and in supporting hospitals which, in the war’s final two years, resulted in more survivors of injuries that