The 5 Greatest Pieces of Medical Equipment

by:Honde     2020-08-14

Throughout the ages, every development in technology and understanding of the sciences has led to huge steps forward in terms of medicine and medical equipment. From the days of herb-lore and bloodletting we have advanced to a world of anaesthesia, antibiotics and MRI machines. Some of these inventions, though they may be everyday to us now, have completely revolutionised healthcare systems and life expectancy across the globe.

The Thermometer

Today, a thermometer is part of every household first aid kit, and is one of the first things we reach for when we suspect we may be ill. The body fights against infections by raising its internal temperature in an attempt to kill any invading pathogens, leading to a fever.

It took years of trial and error before a standardized, accurate thermometer could be perfected.

Before the thermometer was the thermoscope, which was basically a thermometer with no measuring scale. While this would show fluctuations, there could be no accurate measurement of by how much the temperature had changed. It was not until 1612 that a thermometer with a scale was created, by Italian inventor Santorio Santorio.

The first thermometer as we would know it today was probably that created by Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand II in 1654. Still not accurate and without a standardized scale, it used glass-enclosed alcohol as a measurement liquid.

The Stethoscope

While today it is so commonly seen as to be a stereotype of doctors and nurses, the stethoscope was only invented in 1816. Despite advances in technology creating electronic gizmos and other more sophisticated methods of taking blood pressure, the stethoscope has never been laid aside.

The history of the stethoscope's invention is an interesting one. Before the existence of such thing, doctors would place their ear directly against the patient's chest to listen to their heartbeat. However, when faced with the awkward situation of taking the heat rate of an obese young woman, the inventor of the stethoscope, Rene Theophile-Hyacinthe Laennec found himself too embarrassed to continue with the usual procedure. Instead, he took up a piece of paper, rolled it into a tube, and was amazed to find that the sound of the heart was much clearer through this cylinder of paper.

Cardiac Defibrillators

Seen in almost every public institution hanging alongside fire extinguishers and first aid kits, defibrillators are vital to any health organisation. They have saved innumerable lives, all by the simple idea of applying electricity to shock a heart back into its usual rhythm.

Though experimentation with this process did not truly begin until 1890, Mary Shelley's famous gothic horror novel Frankenstein, released in 1818, shows that theories on the use of electricity to revive life were already circling at that early point.

Hypodermic Syringe

It may seem fantastic, but the syringe as we know it today - with a needle fine enough to pierce the skin - was not invented until 1853.

Used then to overcome issues with blood transfusion, it has multiple uses today, from the injection of opiates for pain relief to taking blood samples for testing.


X-rays were first discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen as a side effect from his cathode ray generator. He named this new radiation X-radiation, as he did not know what form it was.

X-rays work in medical situations as bodily tissues have different absorbance rates. This allows them to seen 'through' in an X-ray, revealing the much denser bone structure beneath.

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