10 Terrifying Vintage Medical Tools

Thinking about scalpels and amputation knives is enough to make most people cringe. However, healthcare workers used many of these painful tools late into the 19th century. Some variations of the tools made their way into present-day operating rooms. Although healthcare has come a long way, with technology drastically improving the medical tools we use and the types of procedures we can perform, it wasn’t always so kind. Whether you work in trauma surgery, oncology, or in emergency medicine, you can be glad that some of these tools aren’t still around. With that said, for your viewing pleasure, AllPhysicianJobs has put together ten of the most spine-chilling medical devices of yesteryear—Take a look and see how many of these vintage medical tools you recognize.

Top 10 Vintage Medical Tools

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, the tonsil guillotine 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. Today the osteotome is used in dental surgeries and rhinoplasty. This is one of those vintage medical tools that has managed to stick around.

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. This seemed easier than letting live leeches crawl all over their 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 is another of the vintage medical tools 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. Doctors also used this instrument 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, dentists placed the claw over the top of the tooth, and the bolster against the root of the tooth. When in place, they would turn the device like a key. Often, the tooth would break and then the dentist could dig the remains 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 STD treatment didn’t exist, doctors would insert the stricture divulsor into the urethra. The blades would then spread apart to dilate the area that was narrowed from a disease.

What are some other vintage medical tools that make people cringe but are still around today? Share with us in the comments below!

Author: AllPhysicianJobs.com

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