The Classic: On the Antiseptic Principle in the Practice of Surgery


This Classic Article is a reprint of the original work by Baron Joseph Lister, On the Antiseptic Principle in the Practice of Surgery. An accompanying biographical sketch of Baron Joseph Lister is available at DOI 10.1007/s11999-010-1319-3. The Classic Article is ©1867 and is reprinted with courtesy from Lister J. On the antiseptic principle in the practice of surgery. Br Med J. 1867;ii:246.

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  1. 1.

    The addition of a few drops of water to a considerable quantity of the crystallized acid induces it to assume permanently the liquid form.

  2. 2.

    See the preceding paper in this volume.

  3. 3.

    In order to prevent evaporation of the acid, which passes readily through any organic tissue, such as oiled silk or gutta percha, it is well to cover the paste with a sheet of block-tin, or tinfoil strengthened with adhesive plaster. The thin sheet-lead for lining tea-chests will also answer the purpose, and may be obtained from any wholesale grocer.

  4. 4.

    See p. 16 of this volume.

  5. 5.

    As an instance of one of these exceptional cases, I may mention that of an abscess in the vicinity of the colon, and afterwards proved by post mortem examination to have once communicated with it. Here the pus was extremely offensive when evacuated, and exhibited vibrios under the microscope.

  6. 6.

    See p. 32 of this volume.

  7. 7.

    See p. 36 of this volume.

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Correspondence to Baron Joseph Lister FRCS.

Additional information

A paper read before the British Medical Association in Dublin on August 9, 1867.

[British Medical Journal, 1867, vol. ii, p. 246].

Richard A. Brand MD (✉) Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 1600 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA e-mail:

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Lister, B.J. The Classic: On the Antiseptic Principle in the Practice of Surgery. Clin Orthop Relat Res 468, 2012–2016 (2010).

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