Dr. Harold Delf Gillies played an undeniable role in the modernization of the surgical field during the extent of World War 1. Dr. Gillies was a gifted plastic surgeon who was born in Dunedin, New Zealand on June 17th, 1882.

During World War 1, Dr. Gillies relocated to France, then finally settled his practice in England. Dr.

Gillies established numerous new procedures and created new, modern inventions for the time period. Both psychologically and physically, Gillies surgeries benefitted World War 1 soldiers. Dr. Gillies also originated new plastic surgery facilities which were able to save countless numbers of injured soldiers. Originally, Dr. Harold Gillies was interested in becoming an ear, nose, and throat surgeon. However, during the span of World War 1, Dr.

Gillies changed courses and focused his surgical scope primarily on practicing plastic surgery on injured soldiers. Since World War 1  resulted in horrifying injuries and brutal deformations that were not common for the time period, establishing new modernized procedures became necessary. With several colleagues aiding his discovery, Dr. Gillies was able to create a procedure which he called the tube pedicle in 1917.

This technique involves using the patient’s own healthy skin and transferring it onto the wounded area. The transferred pedicle flap remained attached to the origin point via a tube. (See appendix A) During the World War 1 time period, antibiotics or sulphonamides were not yet developed, which caused infections in wounds to become frequent. The tube pedicle procedure significantly decreased the chances of a patient developing an infection since there was a continuous circulation of blood flow to the newly reattached area. Historian Andrew Bamji remarks on Dr.

Harold Gillies invention of the tube pedicle and states, “Many lessons were learned; the importance of treating infection, of lining flaps, of providing support using non-artificial materials, of restoring normal tissue to normal position and the grafting the gaps.”    Make new paragraph: in depth how this could help However, not all historians agree with the credit given to Dr. Gillies for the tube pedicle.

Historians Paolo Santoni-Rugiu and Phillip Skyes argue that a Russian opthamologist, Vladimir P. Filitov is the true creator of the technique. According to their book, “A History of Plastic Surgery”, Filitov performed surgeries involving the tube pedicle technique in the year 1916 on rabbits, which was prior to Dr. Harold Gillies first tube pedicle procedure in March of 1917.   Dr.

Harold Gillies also positively affected the surgical field by originating hospitals for the wounded soldiers. Gillies volunteered for Red Cross in 1915, and was sent to be a general surgeon to a Belgian ambulance in France. By 1916, Gillies was convinced a plastic surgery unit was necessary, and he campaigned to create one at Cambridge Military Hospital at Aldershot in England. January, shortly after the battle of the Somme, Gillies received 2,000 soldiers who were desperate for facial plastic surgery. During this time, Gillies performed and perfected many surgeries pertaining to the soldiers deformities on their jaw. Without creating the plastic surgery unit, over 2,000 significantly deformed soldiers would have been left in desperate state.

Then, in August of 1917, Cambridge Military Hospital quickly became overcrowded with new victims, and due to  the lack of beds and rooms the unit relocated.  Gillies and his plastic surgery unit moved to Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup in England. Historians such as David Tolhurst credit Harold Gillies to planning the Queen’s Hospital. Dr. Harold Gillies created several surgical tools and inventions during World War 1 that modernized the medical field.


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