Offbeat

Scary Old Surgical Tools: The Original Horror Movie

The next time you are thinking of watching a horror movie and can’t quite decide which one is a go, consider taking a look at some old surgical tools from centuries past instead. The evolution of surgical tools is not something most people ever think about, and yet these cuties below tell a tale as painful as that of any medieval torture device. Read on, be grateful for your HMO and…shiver.

Consider this lovely amputation knife that Michael Meyers might have preferred to the long narrower one he used on his celluloid Halloween rampage of some years back. In the 1700s, knives used for amputations were usually curved because at that time surgeons first made a circular cut through skin and muscle before cutting through bone with a saw.

The apparatus below is an arrow remover, the very thought of which is harrowing enough. Not much is known about this tool, but the theory is that it was inserted into the wound and the central shaft grasped the arrow. If you are not yet ready to pass out, consider the next step, which was for the blades to expand their sharp edges facing outward via the scissor-like handles. They expanded the flesh around the arrow and prevented the arrowhead from ripping through flesh as it was pulled out!

This circumcision knife from the 1770s is enough to make anyone less religious. An intimidating instrument, which dates back to 18th-century Europe, it was probably used many times in this important ritual that has been respectfully performed around the world for many centuries.

The 18th-century Tobacco Smoke Enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient’s rectum for the purpose of resuscitating drowning victims. Although the warmth created by the smoke was believed to foster respiration, this enema proved to be a crock, and the phrase “blow smoke up one’s ass.” originated here.

The Tonsil Guillotine of the 1860s kind of speaks for itself. Slicing off infected tonsils brought its very own “reign of terror.” The double guillotine design facilitated the removal of both tonsils at once. The resulting high rate of hemorrhaging and the fact that tonsil remnants were often left in the mouth gave way to more precise tools like forceps and scalpels in the early 20th century.

The Hirtz Compass was developed in 1915. It was used to aid surgeons in determining the precise locations of bullets in the body. This brings new meaning to that old car rental commercial about “Hertz putting someone in (or at least very near) the driver’s seat.”

Who needs a horror movie?

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