9 Scary Vintage Medical Tools That We're Grateful They're Not Needed Anymore
December 7, 2017|Sara Araujo
These medical tools from the past will definitely make you shiver.
It is safe to say that we're all thankful for medical development. They make everybody’s life better in different ways. But, in order to get to the most successful breakthroughs in health, thousands of doctors and physicians had to find out which experiments were useful, and which weren’t. During the Victorian era, and even throughout World War II, before the discovery of marvels such as penicillin, there were thousands of medical devices that were so frightening, their functionality will make you cringe.
Sure, discovering and experimenting new ways of treating and healing people must have been a very interesting path to follow. But after looking back to the tools they frequently used, I have to say that this discipline turned out to be very creepy too. Most of the gadgets they used had pointed ends, razors, and sharp teeth. The worrying part is that many of them were made for very specific parts of the human anatomy you'd never want to associate with blades.
Medical tools tended to be really gruesome, and still, they were as necessary as they are now. Scary or not, doctors had to find their way into the weirdest medical conditions, supported by this kind of tools. Among the most popular ones, these will definitely make you grateful for recent technological breakthroughs:
Back in the day, bloodletting was a cure to balance a person’s “humors.” However, it kept killing everyone it was used on. This triangle blade was used for this specific purpose. To cure those humors, the blade pressed into the vein, allowing excess blood to drain out of the body until healthful sanguinity had been restored.
Bloodletting with leeches was such a popular treatment, but it was often used in eye and ear surgery. The rotating blades of this tool would cut a wound in the skin, while the cylinder produced a vacuum that sucked up the blood, just like an actual leech would do. Lovely, isn't it?
The history of medicine has a long way with blades. Back when doctors weren’t sure about certain conditions (mostly infections), they thought the best way to fix it was through a nice chop. Saws like this one had particular ornaments to make them "prettier." Ironically, those were the perfect zones for germs to breed.
This tool was used to dilate a woman’s cervix during labor. It measured the amount of dilation on the scale by the handle. I guess you don't have to imagine what happened when the cervix wasn't dilated enough. Unfortunately, they often caused the cervix to tear.
This particular gadget was used for what we know as a trepanation (making a hole in the brain as a pain reliever and treatment for mental disorders). It had a manually-powered drill with a cylindrical blade that was used to open the skull. The spike in the center was used to hold the blade in place while cutting. Was it the best cure for headaches? Maybe not...
In case you were wondering how they cured hemorrhoids back in the day, these forceps were used to grasp a hemorrhoid between the blades and apply pressure to stop the exsanguination. This would cause the hemorrhoid to stop growing. Quite a painful cure for something that nowadays can be treated with medication.
Much like a traditional guillotine, this creepy design was able to remove both tonsils at the same time. Tonsil guillotines were replaced by other methods due to the high rate of blood loss during the procedure and frequent tonsil remainings that were left in the mouth.
This tool was used to treat hemorrhoids and uterine/ovarian tumors. The chain was looped around the mass and tightened using the ratchet, stopping the circulation of blood to the area. Then, it was easier to remove them.
Apparently, bloodletting was a thing back in the day, so there were many tools to perform it. This gadget had little blades that would cut into the skin during the process. Then, a special rounded glass cup could be applied over the wound. Finally, it was warmed, so it would help draw the blood out at a faster rate.
Sure, at the time, medical breakthroughs made progress at a much more slower pace. This meant that many people were treated with the least ideal tools. Sadly, that was all they had available. I honestly can’t help but cringe after thinking of all the patients that required at least one of these devices. These poor people will never get to know the beauty of current technology and the commodity behind medical procedures nowadays.
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