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Primitive Surgical Instruments and More

Updated on September 3, 2016
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Canita - has been a secretary/receptionist, bookkeeper, teacher and retail store manager. I love writing about the things I'm curious about.

Antique Medical Instruments

These three medical instruments can be quite gruesome because of their uses. The could have been used in embalming or in spinal surgery. The Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum (Medieval crime museum) in Rothenburg, Germany is also quite demeaning and primitive.

Antique Medical Tool - Aspirator

Antique Aspirator
Antique Aspirator | Source

Antique Medical Suction Aspirator

It is a medical device used for producing suction, pump for moving and in entomology for collecting material by suction. It is a hollow tubular instrument connected with a partial vacuum and used to remove fluids or tissues of foreign bodies from the body. It is the type of aspirator used in aborting babies. It is used to remove fluids from the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. The first know aspirator was created in 1804. A picture of this exact aspirator was found in an embalming book. They are called hydro-aspirators and used at the end of the embalming process. There is a Potain’s aspirator (circa 1880) that was used to remove fluid from the chest when the patient had tuberculosis or pneumonia.

Type of Aspirators

This instrument is used as a medical tool such as Potain‘s aspirator. As a pump or water aspirator using the Venturi effect. It is often found in biology and chemistry labs. The third aspirator use is in entomology to collect bugs.

Rongeur Medical Instrument

Rongeur Medical Forcep
Rongeur Medical Forcep | Source

The Rongeur Forceps

DeVilbiss Cranial Rongeur Forceps Neuro Surgery tools is a device intended to access, cut and bite the tissue and bone during surgery involving the spinal column. Rongeur is a French word meaning rodent of “gnawer.” It is a strongly constructed instrument used for gouging out of the bone. It is also used in cadaver dissection to break through the ribs removing the anterior chest wall.

Perfume Atomizers

Dr. Allen DeVilbiss, A nose and throat specialist developed a medicated oil for which he need a dispenser. They had invented an atomizer to spray his solution. In 1880 he created DeVilbiss Manufacturing Company which produced atomizers for throat spray. In 1888 he began building respiratory instruments. This is possibly the time when he invented the rongeur. Later this company became the manufacturing company of atomizers for perfume.

Medical Head Restraint

Antique Head Restraint
Antique Head Restraint | Source

Medical Head Restraints

A restraint in a medical setting is an item that limit’s a patients movement. Restraints may be used to keep a person in a proper position and prevent movement of falling during surgery or while on a stretcher. a piece that supports the head. Often the medical restraints were made of leather and metal. The leather does not give and there is an extra ring on the metal beside the two holding the leather strip. This instrument was found with medical instruments. It has an apparatus that looks like a clamp that is adjustable.

Medieval Crime Museum

This museum was a place of interest on the Romantic Road Tour of Germany. From midway Germany to Southern Germany you visited castles, museums and bells on this tour. We only had one hour in the Kriminalmuseum in Rothenburg, Germany. Much of the information was written and more than an hour is needed to really get the full effect of the museum.

Medieval Hanging Cage

The Town Square Hanging Cage
The Town Square Hanging Cage | Source

Hanging Cage

During the medieval times a hanging cage was hang in the town square. This is called by some the Gibbet. Misconduct of any kind could get you a spell in the hanging cage possibly wearing a mask, barrel, chain, or other items. It was also used for more serious crimes and the criminal could be kept there until their death.

Postcard of Chain used when Cheating

Postcard from the Kriminalmuseum, Rothenburg,Germany
Postcard from the Kriminalmuseum, Rothenburg,Germany | Source

Chains for Cheating

This postcard is a picture of the chains that were used on the person who cheated at gambling. Whether it was cheating at cards or not paying off your gambling debt you could spend time in the hanging cage with a chain of huge dice hung around your neck. Whatever the offence there was some symbol for it. So the hecklers would know why you needed to be scolded. The information at the museum suggested this punishment could be for a couple of days or up to one week in the square for minor offences, longer for major offences.

Punishment Masks

Masks from the Kriminalmuseum, Germany
Masks from the Kriminalmuseum, Germany | Source


There were masks for a person to wear while standing or sitting in the hanging cage. The top left picture is a mask for the man who acted like a swine. On the bottom left for those men who tell smutty jokes. The middle top mask if for women who tell smutty jokes. The bottom middle mask has long ears for the man who listens to a dishonest tongue. The top right mask has a long mouth for those same dishonest tongues and on the bottom right in the shape of a cock head for the idle men.

Postcard of Masks

Masks from Kriminalmuseum, Rothenburg, Germany
Masks from Kriminalmuseum, Rothenburg, Germany | Source

Quarrelsome and Immoral

The top left picture is for the quarrelsome women. The bottom left picture is a the barrel you would wear around town if you were a bibber. The middle top picture is for shame of the dishonest tongue. The middle bottom picture is a shame-flute for bad musicians. Top right is a straw wreath for immoral girls, and bottom right is a rosary, church punishment for people who did not go to church.

Things Have Changed

We were told that people who were in the hanging cage and wore the barrel were spit upon, poked, laughed at, slapped, kicked, and belittled while they were in the town square. In this day and age there is no punishment for a dishonest tongue, being a bad musician, telling smutty jokes, for being immoral or not attending church.

Primitive Items

Whether it is embalming or medieval punishment these items are primitive and could be quite gruesome as they are used or as they are executed.


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