Until the mid 19th century, an open fracture meant you could lose a limb. A lack of antiseptic techniques and antibiotics meant that bacterial infection was common, and open wounds frequently led to gangrene. In an effort to avoid dangerous and painful surgery, leading surgeons attempted "cures" for gangrene, including such dubious ingredients as lead.
Until late 19th century innovations, amputation was often the only chance of survival for the patient. But Pasteur's bacterial experiments and Lister's antiseptic procedures would make infection a thing of the past. Or would they...?