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Hypodermic syringe with glass phials of drugs

The hypodermic syringe set once belonged to Sir Frederick Treves (1853-1923), a surgeon who specialised in abdominal surgery and who supported a then-new operation to treat appendicitis, which is still used today. Treves is perhaps best known as the physician who treated Joseph Merrick (1862-90), the so-called ‘Elephant Man’. Hypodermic syringes were and are used to deliver medical treatments under the skin. The aluminium case contains two needles and a range of anaesthetics in tablet form that would be crushed and diluted before being injected. The syringe and drugs were made by Parke, Davis and Co.

Object number:

A620221

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Glossary:

Glossary: hypodermic syringe

A syringe is a simple piston pump consisting of a plunger that fits tightly in a tube. The plunger can be pulled and pushed along inside a cylindrical tube (the barrel), allowing the syringe to take in and expel a liquid or gas through an orifice at the open end of the tube. In modern medicine, a syringe is often fitted with a hypodermic needle to create a hypodermic syringe which is most commonly used for injecting materials directly into the bloodstream.

Glossary: anaesthetic

An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).