19 Medical Devices And Tools Of The Past That You Definitely Would Not Want To Be Treated Today

Centuries gone by have bequeathed us an array of medical instruments, which served purposes ranging from diagnosis to treatment and even surgical interventions. At a cursory glance, it can be rather challenging to fathom their intended functions. Doctors of those eras, driven by their experience and resourcefulness, crafted an assortment of devices aimed at preserving the lives and well-being of individuals. Admittedly, some of these contraptions were not always effective and, at times, even proved detrimental. Nevertheless, it was these somewhat unsettling instruments that played a pivotal role in propelling the field of medicine towards significant advancements, ultimately affording humanity the gift of extended and improved life.

We cordially invite you to delve into the intriguing realm of medical instruments from yesteryears, all the while expressing gratitude to the stars that you will never have to avail the services of physicians from those bygone times.

Dental syringe, 1905

Prophy Magic

This syringe was used to administer painkillers.

Inro boxes used during the Edo period to transport medicine, 1603-1867


Medieval first aid kit containing 126 medicine bottles, 1560s


Pneumothorax apparatus for injecting gas into the chest cavity in order to collapse the lung, 1901-1930

Science Museum Group Collection

It was a widely used device for the treatment of tuberculosis before the discovery of effective antibiotics.

Ear tube for audiometry


A rare device designed to test bone conduction.

Brass syringe with case, 1601-1630


Metal piston enema with container and interchangeable tips, 19th-century


Bloodletting Lancet, 1850


Mallam Scarifier, 1874

Science Museum

The instrument was used for vaccination against smallpox.

Folding birthing chair, 1701-1830


The image of Christ is painted on the back of a chair above the place where the woman’s head should have been.

Bullet extractor, 1500


Trephination tool, 1701-1800


Nose correction device


European amputation saw, 1575


Carbolic steam atomizer


The device was used to disinfect tissues during surgery.

Urological pump


Galvanic apparatus, 1865


A medical electrostatic machine that was used to treat a wide variety of ailments.

Dynamometer, 1751-1823


The instrument has been used to assess a person’s muscle strength and determine the clinical progression of neuromuscular weakness.

Curved Trocar, 1880


This is a surgical instrument with a pointed end that was used to penetrate the body cavities of the human body while maintaining their tightness. Today, modern trocars are used in medicine.