Saturday 16 August 2014

A Tube for Leeches

Regular readers of my medical posts will know that I am occasionally visited here in the salon by a certain fictional gentleman of my acquaintance by the name of Doctor James Dillingham. 

A most dependable Edinburgh sort, Doctor Dillingham can always be relied on for a little nugget of something from the history of medicine and today it is a tool of the medical trade that has caught my eye. I have always had a fancy for blue glass and this was just unusual enough to appeal, so I thought I would set down a little something on the subject of leech tubes.

A leech tube
A leech tube

The rather snazzy object depicted here is a Dutch leech tube fashioned from turquoise glass. With leeches a standard bit of kit in the physician's arsenal, a tube of this type could be used to transport the leech safely on visits to patients. There are two openings in the tube, one wide and one narrow, and a cork in the larger open end kept the leech safely held in place, whilst the narrow aperture at the other end allowed the creature to breath.

Upon reaching the patient, the cork would be removed and the wide opening pressed to the skin so that the leech might attach to the skin and go about its medical business. Although leeches are less common in medicine now than once they were, they are still employed in some cases but sadly these wonderful devices have passed out of everyday use.


Anonymous said...

Lud, I'd be in the suds and would prefer being cupped!

Unknown said...

Decanting the leech into the tube must have taken some skill.

Catherine Curzon said...

And a steady hand!

Catherine Curzon said...

Nay, sir, you would not!