Lithotomy – and hence, the lithotomy position.
French composer Martin Marais (1656-28) wrote this dramatic, narrated piece about the experience of this terrifying, high-risk, no-anaesthetic operation in the 17th century. The approach was trans-perineal.
Samuel Pepys had a bladder stone removed this way when he was 25 in 1658, repeatedly mentioned in his diaries, including in their very first lines written on Sunday 1 January 1660:
Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health, without any sense of my old pain, but upon taking of cold.
He celebrated his survival from this traumatic event annually.
- More on lithotomy from historyofnephrology blog
- Martin Marais (Wikipedia)
- The engraving of a lithotomy operation is from Litotomia, by Tommaso Alghisi, Florence 1707. Wellcome Images, Creative Commons
- Pepys diaries: Claire Tomalin’s The Unequalled Self is widely recommended as the best starting point, but the full text of the diaries is online