Teaching with heritage: sepsis

07 November 2019 13:19

Teaching with Heritage exhibition #4: Aseptic Surgery


Since 2017, when TU Delft celebrated its 175th anniversary, the university has been investing in raising the profile of its academic heritage by improving the preservation of its collections, initiating research projects and organizing on-campus presentations in collaboration with students and academic staff. One of these on-campus presentations is the Teaching with Heritage exhibition series at the Teaching Lab. 


The Teaching with Heritage exhibition series invites educators to select a series of objects from TU Delft Library‚Äôs Special Collections for the display in the Teaching Lab. In a short film, they reflect on the role heritage plays (or could play) in teaching. The fourth exhibition in these series was curated by Dimitra Dodou, researcher and educator at the Biomechanical Engineering department.


As part of an introductory MSc course on medical instrumentation, Dimitra Dodou has introduced a few lectures on the history of surgery. 

Up until the mid-1860s, there was no understanding of what causes infections. Post-operative infections were so common that they were seen as a sign of healing. Surgeons operated in street clothes and with bare hands, instruments were not washed and neither were hands. Gangrene was common and the post-operative mortality rate was high. Complex operations were not possible. From denying the existence of microorganisms to modern laparoscopic instruments, from assuming post-operative infections as normal to aseptic techniques as standard clinical practice: surgery has come a long way. This exhibition highlights the scientific and technological advancements throughout history that allow us to practice safe surgical procedures.


Teaching with Heritage #4 opens 7 November during Education Day and will be running until the end of February. If you are an educator and you would like to curate an exhibition at the Teaching Lab, please contact the Academic Heritage Team of TU Delft Library at: heritage@tudelft.nl.