The most dangerous peri-operative complication related to surgery was uncontrolled bleeding, so that hemostasis has always been an critical and challenging problem. There were a number of inventive ways in which surgeons attempted to control the loss of blood.
Following the application of a tourniquet, physicians withdrew blood using a number of instruments including a thumb lancet that might be carried in a small case, a single bladed spring-loaded lancet, or perhaps a multiple bladed scarificator.
"...daily experience satisfies us that bloodletting has a most salutary effect in many diseases, and is indeed the foremost among all the general remedial means..."
Sir William Harvey (1847)
In the fifth century B.C., Hippocrates established a unified theory regarding the etiology of various diseases that subsequently influenced medical care for centuries. In his proposed rules of harmony, he taught that all body systems were represented by four humours which were naturally balanced and that disease was a result of an interruption in those relationships. Bleeding has been practiced since the time of the Egyptians, and was a way of balancing those humours.
(Chapter Sections below, additional Pictures left)