View Full Version : Renaissance Stabwound

01-27-2009, 10:02 AM
I this story I'm writing I have one of my major characters stabbed by an assasin who flees the scene immediately soon after another character comes looking for him. He has a chest wound, but what sort of chest wound I have not decided, my decision is pending on what could be most accurately treated in the early renaissance let's say around anywhere from 1490-1530 without the best medical treatment. If a person was physically fit enough to wear 40+ pounds of armour and fight with a sword would they enough muscle mass for the dagger to go into the chest but somehow glance off the ribs if the weapon was at a slight angle?

Would a pneumothorax be too serious to survive in the early renaissance?
I've read online that you could treat a pneumothorax with any non-porous material including your hand temporarily, would that work?

Thanks in advance!

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-28-2009, 03:47 AM
Would a pneumothorax be too serious to survive in the early renaissance? I've read online that you could treat a pneumothorax with any non-porous material including your hand temporarily, would that work?

Ambrose Pare, French army surgeon and an all-round good guy was doing it.

Immediate first aid is to slap your hand over it and apply pressure.

I have some 16th century medical books - army surgery manuals, etc. The standard treatment for pneumothorax was to cover it with a non-permeable dressing (such as a cloth dipped in melted beeswax, which coincidentally tends to kill any bacteria on the cloth, or thin poiled leather). Then you have the person exhale deeply, slap the cloth over the wound, secure 3 sides of it with a sticking plaster (medieval adhesive tape) and bandage it lightly to prevent the dressing from coming off but to still allow the loose side to vent any air build up. An x-wrap around the torso, with the loose side on the open part of the X works pretty well.

If all goes well, and the patient doesn't go on to "tension pneumothorax" or get a whopping infection, they will recover. It takes quite a while, so if you want to lay them up for a couple of months, this will do.

Pare also bled off the air with a syringe of some sort, but that was advanced medical care.

01-28-2009, 06:30 AM
Oh thank you! You have been very helpful I was looking for the sort of detail you posted; previously I had seen other similar threads on different sites but this was just what I was looking for.

01-28-2009, 09:44 AM
I was thinking of another way for my character to get stabbed what if someone was quite very physically fit could the dagger slide along the ribs possibly hitting the intercostal muscle but not entering the chest cavity?
Would injuring the intercostal/chest muscles be fatal?

If so would it look like a fatal chest wound from the outside?


01-28-2009, 08:02 PM
I've seen grazing wounds along the chest that bled like crazy, but weren't serious at all. One got stitches (Four inside, maybe eight outside??) just under the left arm - the other was really no more than a long scratch, and he just bandaged it up - along the right rib cage. Both healed over the course of a month.

By the way, what's he wearing when he is stabbed? A light shirt? A doublet? A leather jerkin? These things make a difference in how deeply the blade can go, and if it 'slides' or not.

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-29-2009, 02:42 AM
They weren't big on doing autopsies then ... guy found dead with a knife wound was just called "dead".

If the knife is in position to hit the intracostals (between the ribs), it's already penetrated the rib cage. The only issue is how deep do you want the slice. Nicking the intercostals wouldn't kill him unless an artery managed to be hit and he bled out, but basic fists aid - apply pressure - would save him.

What it would do is make breathing hellaciously painful for a few weeks!

01-29-2009, 07:09 AM
I don't want to kill him, I just want him to look dead. as to what he will be wearing a shirt and a half-button doublet and the usual sort of pants/hose. As far as the stabbing I think I've decided on him getting a pneumothorax, for the weapon I was thinking of a small poniard kind of like this one http://www.atar.com/old/images/pagemaster/euroblkiron.jpg
And for anyone that wants to know the dagger won't be sticking out of my character the assasin will have taken his weapon with him.

Another thing does anyone have any idea of what the immediate reaction of someone who has been stabbed like that would be? Would he loose consciousness?

Thanks again!