Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

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What looks like a bevy of medieval torture tools is actually a early 19th century set of German neurosurgical tools. I think I would be terrified if a doctor walked into my room and opened that innocuous-looking velvet-lined case to reveal all those gleaming edges and tongs and probes, all meant for the purpose of carving the human brain.

It contain 17 compartments which accommodate a full set of instruments made from unplated polished steel, brass and horn. They are signed by Zitier, Heine and Sandill and it is likely that the boxed set was made specifically to accommodate these instruments. Around the central trepanning brace there are two fixed hand held trephines, two detachable handles and trephines attachments, a scalpel, Hey saw, elevator, brush, scissor handled spreaders, a starter trephine and two raspatories. Just under the handle of the trepanning brace is a small instrument with detachable screws which connect to the handle by means of an oblong shaped loop. The small screw would have been turned into a section of cranium and then left in place, allowing it to be easily removed with the handle.

From Phsick Medical Museum.

Would you like to buy your very own trepanning apparatus? For the low price of $1900, you can.

Comments

  1. #1 Orac
    January 3, 2008

    I have news for you. Some of those tools don’t look all that different from neurosurgical tools in use today, particularly the burrhole drills.

  2. #2 Shelley Batts
    January 3, 2008

    Thanks a lot Orac! *shudder* :)

  3. #3 J-Dog
    January 3, 2008

    I think these would be of great use in helping Slimey Sal Cordova overcome his recent problems.

  4. #4 Anon
    January 3, 2008

    I love it!

    I worked once for some gentlemen who were unloading a lot of old things in an estate sale (their restaurant was losing money badly); if I had had the money at the time (which, working for them, of course I did not), I would now be the proud owner of a traveling lobotomist’s kit. Or at least that is what they called it, and certainly what it looked like.

  5. #5 HP
    January 3, 2008

    I find 18th and 19th c. phlebotomy tools much scarier, particularly fleams and scarificators. Heck, the word “fleam” just sounds horrifying. Not to mention fleam-sticks (for whacking the blade of the fleam into the vein).

    And I say this as someone who uses a spring lancet daily to test my blood glucose. So I’m hardly squeamish. (Actually, the 19th c. spring lancet shown on the page I linked is a beauty. I wouldn’t mind using one of those, although keeping it sterile would be difficult. Ooh–I bet you could make a fortune selling sterling silver reproduction spring lancets in fine leather cases to discerning and fashionable diabetics.)

  6. #6 McDawg
    January 3, 2008

    “Standard Drill – Usual Skill”

    Where do Neurosurgeons drill in and for what purpose?

    Here is a great resource brought to my attention yesterday:- http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/video/255-deep_brain_stimulation.html

  7. #7 Dave Briggs
    January 3, 2008

    I think I would be terrified if a doctor walked into my room and opened that innocuous-looking velvet-lined case to reveal all those gleaming edges and tongs and probes, all meant for the purpose of carving the human brain.

    Yep! Me too!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  8. #8 kanzure
    January 5, 2008

    Dear sir,

    After hearing your endorcement of trepanning, I immediately pointed a drill to my skull. However, as you can guess, this did not work out well for my health and general being. Please find enclosed a lawsuit for the sum total of one hundred billion (100 BILLION) USD. Good day, sir.

    Best wishes,
    Kevin Kevin Warwick the Third

  9. #9 Jona
    January 5, 2008

    Here’s an instruction video I once made :)

    http://www.jdbgraphics.nl/index.php?pageid=1&of=26&ol=13

  10. #10 Warren
    January 5, 2008

    I look at stuff like that, and I think of a wine and cheese party, because most of those tools look like things you’d open a bottle with, or slice brie with.

  11. #11 Gail Holst
    July 15, 2011

    this is the tools used by the neurologists? damn they looked dangerous and very pointed I would surely be shaken handling those and using in the patients . ..

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