‘Proper Dressing must be applied on the part after the Operation is finished, the Neatness of which is a great comfort to the Patient, by perswading him he is in the Hands of an able Surgeon. This sets his mind at ease, and Nature advances the Cure more equally’.

De la Vauguion, A compleat body of chirurgical operations (London, 1707), pp 2-3.

Guido Guidi, Ars medicinalis, in qua cuncta quae ad humani corporis valetudinem praesentem tuendam, & absentem reuocandam pertinent, methodo exactissima explicantur. Quae per Vidum Vidium juniorem diligentissime recognita … (Venice, 1611), p. 49.

As Daniel de Moulin notes, the application of bandages, always an important part of any surgical operation was, in the early modern period, almost an art form. The examples of head bandaging in this illustration is just the tip of the iceberg of bandaging images which may be found in the Worth Library. The author of this work, Guido Guidi (1509-1569), was a notable innovator in bandage treatment. He worked as a doctor in Rome and Florence, and in 1542, travelled to Paris to serve as physician to François I (1494-1547). After the king’s death, Guidi relocated to the University of Pisa, where he became a professor of medicine for twenty years.  Worth owned his book Ars medicinalis (Venice, 1611), a medical volume containing dozens of illustrations of human anatomy, surgical instruments, and of course, bandages. Guidi did not restrict himself to one anatomical area for bandaging. He includes methods of bandaging the head, the torso, and the limbs, which demonstrate his expertise.

 Pierre Dionis, Cours d’operations de chirurgie, demonstre’es au Jardin Royal … (Paris, 1714), p. 50.

In his book A Course of Chirurgical Operations (1714), Pierre Dionis (1643-1718), described many different bandaging methods. Just as he provided his students with a basic introduction to instruments [Instruments A-Z], he offered a similar survey of bandaging (which could well be called ‘Bandages: A-R’)! This image shows the principal forms of bandaging used by Dionis in early eighteenth-century Paris. The image includes the ‘veil’ bandage (A), so called because it wrapped entirely around the head and was tied under the chin. It was mainly used for head wounds, along with the ‘Forehead Cloth (B). The scapular (C), which rested on the shoulders, was made of a cloth that was two or three feet long and seven inches wide. It was cut in the middle and came over the head. (D), the ‘Natkin’, wound around the breast while (E), (F) and (G) were ‘bleeding ligatures’, used to bind arms and feet. (H) and (I) were ‘Tortile or Winding Bandages’, which as the name suggests, wound around either arms and legs and whose function was ‘to keep the Remedies fixt on the Part’. (L) and (M) were simple and plain bandages, which went, in the case of the former, twice around the limb.  (N) he simply called a ‘leg bandage,’ wherein one end of the bandage was placed under the sole of the foot and crossed several times until secured. (O) was a bandage, rolled at both ends, usually used with other types of bandaging. (P) was a small bandage, slit near one of the ends to allow it to re-unite the ‘Lips of the Wound’. (Q) was a ‘Bandage with four Ends’, which like (P) could help avoid sutures.  Finally, (R) was called a ‘figured Bandage’ because it was ‘made of two Bands sew’d together’. Dionis tells us that it was used ‘above all in Lithotomy and the Fistula of the Anus’.[1] He makes it clear that this was just the start of the art of bandaging – that a true survey would take a much longer time.

De la Vauguion, Traité complet des operations de chirurgie. … Par Monsieur de La Vauguion … (Paris, 1698), plate I.

In this image, from Worth’s copy of M. de la Vauguion’s Traité complet des operations de chirurgie (Paris, 1698), we are presented with the following description of bandages and their uses :

‘Fig. 1. Represents a Roller with one Head, or rolled up at one end only.

Fig. 2. A Double-headed Roller.

Fig. 3. A Sling or Fillet with four Tails ; This is very useful for the keeping Application on the Eyes, Nose, upper Lip, and in short, on all parts of the Head, and Perinaeum of Persons cut for the Stone [Lithotomy].

Fig. 4. A Sling with six Tails, which may be applied on the Ears, though one with four is sufficient.

Fig. 5. Represents an Emplaster made in the form of a Crescent to be applied behind the Ears, which is adapted as all Emplasters ought to be, to the Figure of the part.

Fig. 6. A false Tent in which a Lancet is conceal’d, for the letting out Pus lodged under the Dura Mater. A Tent of the like Figure made for drying up that which lies on the Membrane, but without a Lancet in it.

Fig. 7. A Syndon of fine Linen, which is to be wetted with some Spiritous Liquor, and laid on the Dura Mater, after Trepanning the Skull.

Fig. 8. Is another Syndon made of Lint, which some Practitioners wet with some Spiritous Liquor, and lay over the former.

Fig. 9. Are small Pledgits of Lint, which are to be arm’d with proper Medicines, and put into the perforation.

Fig. 10. A Pledgit of dry Lint put into the Hole of the Skull.

Fig. 11. Dossils which are to be arm’d with proper Digestives, for the filling up the Lips of the Wound.

Fig. 12. A large Pledgit arm’d with some proper Digestive to lay over the Dossils.

Fig. 13. A large Emplaster of Betony, to cover the whole’.[2]

A ‘syndon’ was a fine cloth ; a pledgit (more commonly ‘pledget’) was a small  flattened piece of wool ; the term ‘Dossil’ refers to the lint used to plug a wound.


Bahşi, Ilhan, ‘Life of Guido Guidi (Vidus Vidius), who named the Vidian canal’, Child’s Nervous System, 2018.

De la Vauguion, M., A compleat body of chirurgical operations (London, 1707). Worth had a French edition: Traité complet des operations de chirurgie (Paris, 1698).

De Moulin, Daniel, History of Surgery (Dordrecht, 1988).

Dionis, Pierre, A Course of Chirurgical Operations, Demonstrated in the Royal Garden at Paris (London, 1733). This is an English translation of Dionis’ Cours d’operations de chirurgie, demonstre’es au Jardin Royal … (Paris, 1707). Worth had the 1714 Parisian edition.

Ellis, Harold, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Surgery (Cambridge, 2009).

Tubbs, R. Shane, ‘Pierre Dionis (1643-1718): Surgeon and Anatomist’, Singapore Medical Journal, vol. 50, no. 4. (2009), 447-9.

Text: Ms Paige Blancett (third year student of Museum Studies, Arizona State University) and Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian, The Edward Worth Library, Dublin.

[1] Dionis, Pierre, A Course of Chirurgical Operations, Demonstrated in the Royal Garden at Paris (London, 1733), pp 31-5.

[2] M. de la Vauguion, A compleat body of chirurgical operations (London, 1707), Sig. GG 1r-v.