The bone is stretched a small amount each day until the desired height is reached, then the bone is allowed to fuse back together.
Category: Object Focus
Electric Hair Brushes and Magnetic Cure-Alls
George Scott was an English businessman who had no formal medical training whatsoever, yet he made a killing off of several “medical” devices he had invented for home use.
The Faces of the Dead: Crafting Death Masks
Death masks have the ability to ease death-related anxieties because the people who have already crossed into the eternal unknown look as though they are blissfully slumbering.
Chainsaw Babies and symphysiotomies
During the late 18th century, the chainsaw was utilized by doctors during complicated childbirths.
The Thomas Splint
The Thomas splint revolutionized emergency medicine during World War I. This device diminished the mortality rate of femoral fractures from 80% to 20%.
Romantic Lachrymatory Bottles or Hoax?
The most interesting thing about the myth of tear catchers is that it is totally believable considering that mourning was an outward artistic social expression to the Victorians.
Killer Wallpaper: A Green to Die For
The Victorians did not shy away from bright colors and patterns in their homes, and they were certainly unaware that some of those home design choices could cost them their lives.
A Box of Blades: What is a Scarificator?
What is a Scarificator? Bloodletting remains to be one of the oldest and far-reaching medical practices of all time. Before the development of the spring-loaded scarificator, veins in a patient’s arms and neck were cut into. The procedure as a whole was extremely slow and painful (patients probably didn’t smile like paintings would lead you…Read more »
Let ‘er Rip: The Clockwork Saw
The clockwork saw is a fascinating, yet little-known invention that never made it past the prototype phase. Developed by WHB Winchester (1816-1901), the clockwork saw was a hand-wound amputation device. The surgeon would crank the handle tight and then let go, causing the blade to spin rapidly. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the saw was not…Read more »
Toothy Tumors: What are Teratomas?
Did you ever think that a tumor could contain hair, bone, and teeth? Well, a special kind of tumor known as teratoma can, and their appearance can be nightmare-inducing. “Teratos” is the Greek word for “monster,” so teratomas are essentially monster tumors (McRae). Despite the name, teratomas are usually benign and easy to treat once…Read more »
If the Shoe Fits: Why X-Rays were in Shoe Stores for Decades
The x-ray was discovered rather unexpectedly in a lab in Bovaria. In 1895, scientist Wilhelm Röntgen was conducting an experiment to see if cathode rays had the ability to pass through glass. He was mesmerized by the green light that was emitted and noticed that the beam could pass through most solid objects, all except…Read more »
The practice of eating dirt is known today as geophagy and it originates from antiquity. Eating dirt and clay was used as a cure for a number of ailments, but the most common were upset stomachs and poisoning. In 1581, Wendel Thumblardt of Germany was sentenced to death by hanging for a series of robberies…Read more »
He Never Made it out to Sea: The Thievery of Charles Byrne’s Remains
In the spirit of continuing the recent discussion on John Hunter, let us dive into the complicated tale behind the bodily remains of Mr. Charles Byrne. Charles Byrne, or the “Irish Giant,” as he is often referred to as, was born in 1761 in Derry (McMahon). He suffered from a form of genetic gigantism in…Read more »
Lysol: A Contraceptive Horror Story
Since the 1920s, it was not uncommon for women to see advertisements that made large claims about the cleaning agent, Lysol, and it’s ability to prevent failed marriages and unwanted pregnancies. In fact, Lysol has had a lengthy past as an unregulated female douching solution, and between the 1930s and 1960s, it was one of…Read more »
Paper Tubes & the Acoustics of the Chest
(Photo Credit: Medicine: The Definitive Illustrated History. Take note of the early stethoscope’s shape) If you have ever been to a medical office, then you’ve most likely seen a stethoscope before. Stethoscopes are important diagnostic tools that allow practicing physicians to listen to your chest with ease. It is hard to believe that a tool used…Read more »