Paré, Ambroise

Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) is widely considered the greatest surgeon of the sixteenth century. Renowned as much for his compassion as his surgical skill, Paré guided his life with a humble credo of patient care: "I dressed him, God cured him."

Paré was born in an era in which physicians considered surgery well beneath their dignity. Doctors left all cutting to the lowly barber-surgeons. Pare initially served as an apprentice to a barber in the French provinces, and at age 19 went to Paris where he became a surgical student at the famous Hotel Dieu hospital. After his graduation in 1536, Pare joined the army as a regimental surgeon. He served intermittently in the army for the next 30 years, during which time he also developed a flourishing private practice and gained fame through his writings and his considerate, democratic treatment of soldiers of all ranks. Before his career ended, he had acted as surgeon to four French kings as well.

It was during the siege of Turin (1536-1537) that Paré made his first great medical discovery. Gunshot wounds, a new medical condition, were considered poisonous and routinely treated by cauterization (sealing off) with boiling oil. When Paré ran out of oil during the siege, he turned instead to simple dressings and soothing ointment, and immediately noted the improved condition of his patients. Pare popularized this revolutionary treatment in his Method of Treating Wounds in 1545.

Ambroise Paré.
Ambroise Paré.

Paré's next contribution to medicine was his promotion of ligature (tying off) of blood vessels to prevent hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding) during amputations. In a book on these new techniques, Pare also included large parts of Andreas Vesalius's authoritative work on anatomy, translated from the original Latin into French. This information dramatically increased the barber-surgeon's knowledge of anatomy, since the typical barber-surgeon was never taught Latin as part of his training.

Paré was an innovator, always willing to try new practices. He favored massage and designed a number of artificial limbs as well as an artificial eye. He advanced obstetrics (the study of childbirth) by reintroducing podalic version (turning a fetus in utero into a position possible for birth) and inducing premature labor in cases of uterine hemorrhage. As always, he spread knowledge of these discoveries through his writings.

Paré's greatest accomplishment, aside from actually coming up with new surgical techniques, was to spread this information throughout the barber-surgeon community, elevating surgery's status to a professional level and paving the way for vast improvements in surgical care.

[See also Bandages and dressings ]

User Contributions:

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Oct 7, 2006 @ 10:10 am
brilliant source for History of Medicine at GCSE in school
something to remember and came in useful when writting about
Pare and his new techniques
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Feb 4, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
this is cool it makes learning fun i can do report now easily!
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Feb 14, 2008 @ 11:11 am
this was the best information i have gotten!
thank you so much, you really helped me with my project :D
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Mar 17, 2008 @ 8:20 pm
how interesting! I found out from my father that I'm actually related to this guy. Huh. I'd better become an MD huh?
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Mar 18, 2008 @ 7:19 pm
made my report 100 times easier!!
Zoe Muir
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Nov 20, 2008 @ 4:04 am
Very good website gives us loads of infomation

Good work
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Dec 30, 2008 @ 11:11 am
thank fully if it was not for this website i do not think that i would be close of finishing my project.
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Jan 8, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
I liked this information it was very kool and inspiring:)
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Sep 30, 2009 @ 5:17 pm
Can you tell me what happened after he created and worked on prosthetic things? I'm doing a history fair project, and need some help, PLEASE!
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Dec 12, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
Wow thank you alot, this was extremely useful for my homework.
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Jan 8, 2014 @ 8:08 am
Paré is amazing! His work amazing and i love it :) #yolo #pare #ilovehostory #amazing
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May 21, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
thank u very much for the info I need more info
Tails The Fox Fan
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Apr 10, 2015 @ 2:02 am
This helped me on my project so much. Thanks whoever did this.
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Apr 20, 2015 @ 11:11 am
what 2 discorvies did pare do beacuse i got a mock coming up on it?

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