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is no secret that modern medicine has advanced significantly, but did you realize that chainsaws were first created to help in childbirth? Since the 1700s, the chainsaw’s history has advanced quickly. Let’s examine what inspired this development in more detail.

Large babies were challenging for mothers to deliver vaginally before C-sections. Cesarean sections, sometimes known as C-sections, involve the surgical expulsion of the infant from the uterus.

This is typically necessary, according to Mayo Clinic, if complications with the baby’s passage through the birth canal are anticipated or if problems develop in the final stages of pregnancy, such as delayed labor or a disturbed baby.

However, C-sections weren’t yet used in the 1700s. Baby and/or mother deaths could occur as a result of babies being stuck in the delivery canal. Therefore a new solution called symphysiotomy was invented, along with the chainsaw.

For good reason, symphysiotomies are no longer utilized during labor. They were a messy procedures that frequently hurt the woman in the long run. As the treatments were frequently performed without anesthetic and might be challenging to recover from, this harm was both physical and mental.

Skeletal pelvis-pubis diagram (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A symphysiotomy involves manually widening the pelvis by removing cartilage from it.

The place where the cartilage will be removed can be seen in the above image as the black area with the number 5. To accommodate the baby after removal, the pelvis would be widened.

Two physicians named John Aitken and James Jeffray devised a method for the arduous, protracted symphysiotomy procedure in the 1780s.

The chainsaw was created by them.

You could be picturing the kind of chainsaw used by lumberjacks or bad guys in horror films. Rest assured, the early chainsaws weren’t as big.

The original chainsaw was much more compact. It had the name osteotome. The word’s origins are in the Greek words for “bone” and “sliced,” which was pretty appropriate.

Original model of Chainsaw from 1780s (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Cutting the pelvic bone was quicker, simpler, and more accurate thanks to the serrated blade. Throughout the 19th century, this tool was frequently used to aid in childbirth and other treatments that needed cutting through bone.

However, as time went on and (luckily) medical techniques improved, sanitation and anesthetic took center stage.

Symphysiotomy, a cruel procedure, became obsolete once doctors could properly administer anesthetic and the C-section became safer.

Even though the use of chainsaws in surgery began to decline, many people soon recognized that if they could cut through bone, they could certainly do the same with other tough materials, including wood.

Samuel Bens applied for the first electric chainsaw patent in 1905 with the intention of felling enormous redwood trees for building purposes.

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