Thingamajig: Glass syringe

Glass syringe

Today’s Thingamajig comes from the A.M. Autrey, Sr., Collection of Medical Instruments.  Here we have a glass and metal syringe and hypodermic needles, nestled comfortably in a padded, satin-lined, case.  The metal may be silver.

The syringe as we know it was invented, based on the earlier development of the fine, hollow, needle, in 1853 by a French orthopedic surgeon named Charles Gabriel Pravaz (1791-1853), for treatment of aneurysms.  The first use of the new device to administer anesthetic is attributed to a Scot, Dr. Alexander Wood (1817-1884), in the same year.

Early syringes had to be cleaned and reassembled one at a time, and carried a constant risk of cross-contamination and infection in the years before asepsis was well-understood.  Glass syringes with interchangeable parts, which could be sterilized in large batches, were finally invented by Chance Brothers glassworks of England in 1946.  The disposable, single-use, pre-sterilized, syringe and needle that we use today did not appear until 1953.

Read more:

“Syringe” on Wikipedia.

Chance Brothers, a brief timeline.

History of the syringe at Discoveries in Medicine.

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Posted in Archives, Medical Archives, Thingamajig

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