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Scary Surgical and Medical Instruments

Featured, Science — By on November 22, 2010 4:26 am

With Steampunk making its way into the mainstream, Victorian-era stuff is seeing some press on the internet these days.  While Victorian-era clothing and accessories might be Just The Thing, there are some Victorian-era stuff that we hope doesn’t make a comeback.  Just for funsies, and to creep you out a little more, at the end I’m going to put some even older things in there to give you the heebie jeebies.

The Fake Leech

Fake Leech As if using real leeches wasn’t bad enough, I submit the artificial leech.  Those sharp little blades would shred the skin, and the tube would suck out the blood.  Yuck.  We can’t be too surprised by this, since bloodletting was the standard for medical procedures for, like, two thousand years (thanks, wikipedia), and you have to give the Victorian era props for thinking, “what if we run OUT of leeches?”  1840 FTW.


Hysterotome Metrotome
OK.  This one pretty much wins the “you want to put that WHERE?!?!” award.  It is a device that was inserted into a woman’s, *ahem*, ladyparts to amputate the cervix.  Youch.

Skull Saw

Skull Saw

I don’t care what people talked about and thought about in Victorian times.  Would you let anybody near your head with this thing?  “Oh, we’re just going to cut a big gash in your head so we can get our rusty tools in there to operate on your BRAIN.”

Tonsil Guillotine

Tonsil Guillotine

Same for this doodad.  “Hold still while we stick this puppy down your throat and slice off both your tonsils at the same time.”  Unfortunately, the tool was not totally accurate, resulting in bits of infected tonsils left behind and a good bit of hemorrhaging.  Fun!

And for the pre-Victorian times, we have the following beauties:

Vaginal Speculum

Vaginal Speculum
While doctors today still use specula, they are at least a little less ornate and more sterile than they used to be.  The modern day version is uncomfortable enough, imagine (or don’t) how awful this must have been.  Yes, that’s a crank you see.  They still have cranks today, but I’m fairly certain they don’t need the 1600s version of WD-40 to work smoothly.

Amputation Knife

Amputation Knife

In the 1700′s, if you needed a limb amputated, this is what you’d see in the doctor’s hand, right before the ether took you under.  Think that made for some bad dreams?  Yessir.

Smoke Enema

Tobacco Smoke Enema

Picture you’re living in 1780 or so.  You are out ice skating, and you fall through the ice.  You almost drown, but they pull you out and attempt to resuscitate you.  But instead of giving you mouth-to-mouth (not to be mainstream until the middle of the 20th century), they pull down your britches and stick the tube of this bellows in your bum, blowing tobacco smoke into your…hindparts.  Seems totally bizarre, right?  It was thought that it would help warm the person, helping them recover easier.  Aren’t you glad we told you that?  And, now you know where the expression “blowing smoke up…” came from!

Even some of the POST Victorian surgical instruments were pretty crazy:



Yep, they still did bloodletting in the 1920s.  But instead of leeches they used these neato cylinders with spring-loaded blades that would cut you, then the bloodletter would put a glass receptacle over the cut to collect the blood.


Nasal Rectificateur

It’s the early 20th century.  You’re French.  You break your nose somehow.  Lucky for you, this nifty contraption fits right on over your broken nose and has handy straps that secure behind your head.  Someone who knows how to work the durn thing can twist the little knobs to apply pressure to parts of your face to heal your honker.

1 Comment

  1. Erik says:

    You wouldn’t pass out from ether after seeing that knife. Anesthesia wasn’t used in the 1700s!

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