The syringe and needle, two of the most iconic items in medicine. As well-known for terrifying people as they are for their actual purpose. Although we associate them with modern medicine, the history of needles and syringes dates back hundreds of years.
If we narrow that down to only the syringe, it’s thousands of years old.
Whether you have an interest in medicine or find history fascinating, we’ll explore the life and evolution of the syringe and needle. If you’ve got any fears about these types of things, this might dispel them!
Long before medical needles and syringes had ever taken shape in the way we now know them, great minds were experimenting. Due to technological limitations, the needle component was still more than a thousand years away.
If you saw a picture of these proto-syringes without any notations, you’d have a hard time guessing what they are. They consisted of bulky, cumbersome-looking tubes.
You might be wondering what their purpose was if there was no needle. In simple words, they were a plunger system.
These plungers saw use in inserting ointments into already-open cuts or wounds. Another use was the extraction of fluids. Unlike modern syringes, there was no skin piercing involved.
This technology goes back to the ancient Greeks. There it bore some passing resemblance to the modern syringe and needle. You can take a look here to find out more about the too-often forgotten ingenuity of the Greeks.
The blueprint for the hypodermic needle and syringe had been laid by these technologies. There was still the missing component, though. The modern needle needed to tie all together.
The History of the Needle
It’s common sense to be so scared of needles, especially when looking at their history. The breakthrough of a functional needle came in the 1850s, but the story has bloody roots.
The purpose of a needle is to inject or extract a substance from beneath the skin. The oldest tool sharing a similar function is the weapons of ancient hunters.
Darts, coated with poison. Terrifying indeed.
Christopher Wren was the first to try turning this concept into something positive. His early experiments injecting dogs with opium laid the groundwork for the modern needle.
It was the eventual work of Charles Gabriel Pravaz and Alexander Wood that continued the development. Their development of a modern needle allowed a procedure with a syringe to administer morphine.
The experiment was a success, and now more than a hundred years on we have the blessing of things like syringe needle kits. Once only used for injecting, advancements in medicine gave rise to phlebotomy.
Being Thankful for The Syringe and Needle
They might be a little terrifying, but we should be thankful for the syringe and needle! So many of the wonders of modern medicine wouldn’t have been possible without them.
The miracle of human ingenuity continues to bear fruit even today. We cover plenty of fascinating topics like this on the blog, so keep reading!