This operating table with original George Marshall Medical Museum catalogue card is the operating original table used at Worcester Royal Infirmary.
The body of the table has an adjustable back rest that can be raised and lowered using the mechanism where a cross bar is slotted into one of a number of different grooves and locked into place. This allows the patient to be placed at various angles to suit the needs of the surgery.
The table has a divided leg rest which is a particularly desirable feature. This would be useful for operations such as leg amputations, as the leg being amputated could be laid on the leg rest whilst the other leg rested down and out of the way.
The operating table has become a symbol of pain and brutality from the Victorian era. Prior to germ theory and improved hygiene, operating tables and implements were rarely properly washed or sterilised which resulted in high mortality rates from infection. Surgeons were judged by how quickly they could operate and amputate, which led to hasty and messy surgical work.
Historically, operating theatres were where anatomies and operations were performed for students and medical professionals to watch and learn. The operating table would be placed centre front at ground level, with raised semi circular rows of standing space for spectators to view from.
This item forms part of the Victorian Surgery display at the George Marshall Medical Museum.