The History of Medical Technology

Medical Technology has changed over the
As we gain more knowledge, ways of treating
disease and injuries improves.
To give you an idea, here are some ways
problems were dealt with in the past.
Trephine (1800s)
This trephine was a hand-powered drill
with a cylindrical blade that was used to
bore into the skull. The spike in the center
was used to start the procedure and to
hold the blade in place while cutting.
Tonsil Guillotine (1860s)
This method of removing tonsils worked much like a traditional
guillotine, slicing off the infected tonsils. This "double guillotine"
design meant that both tonsils could be removed at the same
time. Tonsil guillotines were replaced by forceps and scalpels
in the early 20th century due to the high rate of hemorrhaging
and the imprecise nature of the device, which often left tonsil
remnants in the mouth
Amputation Knife (1700s)
Knives used for amputations during the 18th century were
typically curved, because surgeons tended to make a
circular cut through the skin and muscle before the bone
was cut with a saw. By the 1800s, straight knives became
more popular because they made it easier to leave a flap
of skin that could be used to cover the exposed stump.
Artificial Leech (1800s)
Bloodletting with leeches was such a popular treatment for a range
of medical conditions that an artificial leech was invented in 1840
and was used frequently in eye and ear surgery. The rotating blades
would cut a wound in the patient's skin, while the cylinder would be
used to produce a vacuum that sucked up the blood.
Dr. Beaumont is able to
study digestion in a living
human stomach when a
trapper on Mackinaw
Island blows a hole into
his stomach and lives.
Dr. Beaumont would put
pieces of food into the
stomach and then
remove them to see
what happened.
Chinese people had been using plants for medicinal purposes for 4500 years and
some of these had been brought to Europe. Many domestic plants, such as
foxglove and marshmellow, were also used to cure illnesses. As well as these,
doctors believed in the power of powders said to be made from strange
ingredients such as horn from the mythical unicorn, and bezoar stone (recently
made famous in J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter books), which was claimed to be the
tears of a stag turned to stone. Live worms, fox lungs (for asthma), spiders' webs,
swallows' nests and the skulls of executed criminals were also highly sought after
 Why did doctors use leeches?
 Leeches are a type of slug-like worm, used for thousands of years to reduce
blood pressure and cleanse the blood. A leech placed on the skin will consume
four times its own weight in blood, and with the blood the toxins that produce
diseases. While the leech is sucking it releases a chemical called hirudin, which
prevents coagulation, or clotting of the blood. Fevers were thought to be the
result of too much blood in the body: doctors deliberately cut veins or used
leeches to release this 'bad' blood.
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