London’s Science Museum is hosting an extensive exhibition of medical devices used through the ages. A great deal of them make one squirm with pain by simply thinking that they were actually used. We particularly liked the bullet locator above and the ether inhaler to the right.
Top image: The Hirtz compass was invented in 1907 by E J Hirtz, a French medical officer and head of physiotherapy at a military hospital. The brass device was used to accurately determine where bullets were located in the body, especially the brain. Bullets could then be removed surgically with precision thereby reducing damage to the surrounding areas of the body. X-rays were also used to guide the surgeon. This example dates from the First World War.
Side image: Joseph Thomas Clover (1825-1882) first described his inhaler in 1877. It was the earliest inhaler designed to regulate the dose of an anaesthetic, in this case ether. About 30 ml of liquid ether would have been placed in the nickel-plate reservoir, with a rotating water jacket surrounding the ether to prevent it getting too cold. The patient then breathed in the vapours through a face mask connected by rubber tubing. Inhalers of this type were still in use during the Second World War.
Link: Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine
(hat tip: New Scientist)