Medicine in 1860s Victoria

Medical Equipment

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Dr. Helmcken's medical supply account book also lists medical and surgical equipment, including amputating instruments, dislocation pulleys, trephining instruments and a urinometer (a transcription of the list is available here).

Among the equipment listed are "Cupping instruments and glasses." These were used in bloodletting, a practice still common in Helmcken's day. The principle of bloodletting was to reduce the amount of blood in the body to restore the balance of the four humors. The basic method was to simply make a hole in a vein and allow the blood to drain into a basin. Another method was called "cupping", where after the vein was opened, a heated glass cup was placed mouth-down over the wound. As the glass cooled the partial vacuum that resulted pulled blood into the cup (this was known as "wet cupping"). In some cases the vein was not pierced, and the cup merely drew blood to the surface of the skin ("dry cupping"). The image at the right shows several styles of bloodletting cups, along with the implement used to heat them.



19th Century Cupping Equipment Click for reference data

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