There has been recent debate over whether circumcision should be made mandatory as a way to prevent the spread of HIV, so I thought I would share the section on circumcision from the 1908 textbook, A Text-Book of Minor Surgery by Edward Milton Foote, MD.
This little operation can be performed in a number of ways. The practice among the Hebrews when circumcision is performed as a religious rite is to draw the foreskin well forward, to cut it off with one stroke of a long knife, to immerse the penis in wine held in the mouth of the rabbi to stop the hemorrhage, and then to wrap it in linen rags. It is not surprising that dangerous hemorrhage and infection sometimes follow this procedure, and a few lives have been lost in consequence.
Equally reprehensible is the practice among some surgeons of trying to perform this little operation in the shortest possible time. For this purpose clamps have been devised to hold the foreskin so that both the external and reflected portions can be cut away by a single stroke of the knife. It is obvious that the amount of skin thus removed cannot be controlled with certainty, and even if the line of incision be a perfectly smooth circular one, a thing which rarely happens, the adjustment in length of the external and internal portions of the prepuce is at best uncertain. There is no part of the body concerning which most patients are more sensitive, so that the surgeon ought to be willing to give up a few minutes of his time in order to secure a perfect result. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*