Medical technology has vastly improved over the past few centuries, and it has yet to reach its pinnacle. The devices we make use of today are designed to increase efficacy and accuracy and minimise pain and discomfort. What is more, device designers are always striving to improve on the products they create. For most of the history of the medical profession, however, this has not been the case. There was a time when medical technology was rough and ready, imprecise – and utterly terrifying. Glenmed Professional Healthcare Solutions takes a look at some of the most horrifying devices that medical practitioners once used to treat their patients.
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5 Of The Most Frightening Historical Medical Devices
To put it mildly, early medical technology was extremely crude. Whereas today we use devices that operate on the basis of innovations such as x-ray and ultrasound, aiming to make the patient’s experience as non-invasive and painless as possible, while also increasing the precision of diagnosis and treatment, the medical professionals of yesteryear had only the most basic of methods – and some rough and frankly horrifying devices with which to carry them out. Here are 5 medical devices that – thankfully – are no longer in use.
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1. The Artificial Leech
There was a time when controlled bloodletting was regarded as the best way to rid the body of disease. For centuries, the most popular way of carrying this out was to place leeches on the patient’s body. As if this wasn’t bad enough, when leeches became scarce, doctors devised a rather brutal artificial substitute. It consisted of a metal cylinder with blades at one end and a plunger at the other. The rotating or spring-loaded blades were used to pierce the patient’s skin, and the plunger was then slowly drawn upward to suction blood into the cylinder.
Removing haemorrhoids or uterine tumours was a difficult job in the 19th century. The standard approach was to use this device to strangle any unwanted growths and cut off their blood supply so they could other be cut off or left to drop off.
Don’t be misled by the name – this device is not like the standard hypodermic devices we use today to inject medicine or draw blood. From the 16th Century onwards, syringes were used primary to inject mercury for the treatment of syphilis. The liquid metal was not injected into the bloodstream, but into a man’s urethra, requiring the large needle to be placed directly into the opening at the end of the penis.
Gynaecological instruments were once particularly crude. In the 17th century, doctors used an early version of the modern speculum. It resembled a pair of tongs that, with the two ends being inserted in the vagina, and a crank being turned at the other end to widen the opening and provide a better view.
5. Hernia Tool
After repairing the muscle tissue during a hernia operation, early to mid-19th Century doctors would insert this tool into the area, where it would be left for about a week so that scar tissue could form around the spot and help seal the rupture.
Trust Glenmed Professional Healthcare Solutions as Your Go-To Provider Of Professional Medical Services
Thankfully, the medical profession has come a long way. Today, medical equipment is provided by top brands in an environment of innovation, healthy competition, and compassion. Glenmed is a licensed South African distributor representing several of these brands. Contact us to find out how we can help you equip your medical facility, as well as train your staff and maintain your equipment.
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