10 Terrifying Vintage Medical Tools

Thinking about scalpels and amputation knives is enough to make most people cringe, but many of these tools were used late into the 19th century with variations making their way into present day operating rooms.

For your viewing pleasure, All Physician Jobs has put together ten of the most spine chilling medical devices of yesteryear—Take a look and see how many you recognize.


  • 1. Tonsil Guillotine: Used during the 1860’s to remove the tonsils during a tonsillectomy, this surgical instrument was meant to remove both tonsils at once. Yet, after much practice, it was replaced during the 20th century with forceps and scalpels due to the high rate of hemorrhaging.

  • 2. Osteotome: This surgical instrument was used for cutting bone, and it essentially acted as a small, hand powered chainsaw. The osteotome was first designed to cut through the skull and later used for amputations. There have been multiple variations of the tool throughout the decades, and today the osteotome is used in dental surgeries and rhinoplasty.

  • 3. Electroretinogram: This tool is used to measure the electrical responses in the eye. The electroretinogram is still used today, but the device looks more friendly and less Clockwork Orange.

  • 4. Artificial Leech: Using real leeches was a medical favorite for bleeding patients, so doctors developed a chamber with a syringe and vacuum to pinpoint where they wanted to extract blood from patients.

  • 5. Electric Bath: This was an alternative to electrotherapy and thought to be very therapeutic for degenerative diseases, arthritis, and joint pain. While this device might sound torturous, it is rather relaxing and was even found on the first class level of the Titanic. Electric baths have evolved into modern day tanning beds.


  • 6. Hemorrhoid Forceps: This tool was used to grasp a hemorrhoid between two blades to stop the blood flow, therefore causing a hemorrhoid to drop off. This tool may look familiar because it’s still used to this day.

  • 7. Trephine: This instrument’s circular saw was used for cutting out holes in the skull as a diagnostic tool for diseases like bone marrow cancer. The instrument was also used to remove the eye, if necessary.

  • 8. Dental Key: Before the era of anesthesia and antibiotics, dentists would extract a tooth if it became infected. During the 1700s, the claw would be placed over the top of the tooth, and the bolster would be placed against the root of the tooth. When in place, the device would be turned like a key. Often, the tooth would break and the remains would be dug out of the gum.

  • 9. The Gorget: Used as a guide during the removal of kidney stones, the device would enter the body via lateral perineal incision and guided into the bladder.

  • 10. Stricture Divulsor: This device is perhaps the most terrifying of all. When there was no treatment of STDs, doctors would insert the stricture divulsor into the urethra, and then the blades would spread apart to dilate the area that had been narrowed from disease.


How do you think patients would react if you tried using one of these medical tools on them today?

Author: AllPhysicianJobs.com

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