Old-Timey Surgical Instruments That Were Worse Than Death

If the sound of a dentist drill sends chills up your spine, these old-timey surgical tools will probably make you wet yourself.

By Zack Zeigler

You’ve no doubt seen old torture devices during trips to museums, on History Channel documentaries, and in your dominatrix’s love dungeon. But did you know the old-timey torture instruments once used by maniacs to inflict agonizing pain weren’t all that different from the old-timey surgical instruments once used by doctors to heal people?

From poles stuck up urethras to metal hemorrhoid nooses, we’ve found some terrifying surgical instruments that must have been worse than death. Who wants to play doctor?

Artificial Leech (1840)
Leeches were once the most popular choice for bloodletting, which was the removal of blood to cure or prevent disease. While bloodletting was, go figure, eventually found to do more harm than good to patients, an anticoagulant called hirudin found in leech spit continues to be used to help patients heal from reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately, 19th century doctors didn’t know either any of that, and so they thought it would be a good idea to start using the artificial leech, a more efficient and sterile bloodletting method. The aluminum bat with rotating spikes popping out its end would lacerate the patient’s skin and the cylinder (the bat’s handle) would then vacuum up the blood.

TAGS: medicine, surgery, tools