History Of Instruments Essay

1108 words - 5 pages

Phlebotomy, otherwise known as venipuncture, is the art of drawing blood from the human body. This skill has been practiced since the time before the birth of Christ, originating in early civilizations of the ancient Egyptians and Mayans approximately 3000 years ago. The understanding of how the human body works, including the substance that flows through each individual, has continuously been on the forefront of the mind of many researchers, as well as within the very culture of many communities. As a result, these explorers needed the use of various instruments; as a way to be able to chart, investigate, and cleanse the body of impurities or excess fluid. The art of phlebotomy was once viewed as horrific and repulsive, but it has become an art in which the human race has worked diligently at to bring a perception of healing and understanding towards the patient.
The practice of Phlebotomy originated from humorism. Humorism was a theory, later being discredited, that was adopted by ancient Greek and Roman philosophers explaining the structure and mechanisms of the human body. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, believed that there were four basic elements to existence: earth, air, fire, and water; these related to four basic humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Breaking it down another step, these humors were centered to particular organs: the brain, the lungs, the spleen, and the gall bladder. People who became ill were expected to have an imbalance of the four humors. According to the BC Medical Journal (2010), "treatments consisted of removing an amount of the excessive humor by various means such as bloodletting, purging, catharsis, diuresis, and so on." During the 3rd century, Galen, a Greek physician, surgeon, and philosopher, declared that blood was the most dominant humor. Therefore, the practice of venesection became an invaluable procedure, even though it often led to the death of patients resulting in critical amounts of blood taken. This stage of phlebotomy could be viewed as an experiment rather than a viable method of treatment. Regarding bloodletting as a form of murder was a physician by the name of Erasistratus. He believed that veins contained blood and arteries held air; fearing the possibility of transferring air to the veins as a result of venesection would ultimately be committing murder. Phlebotomy began as a dangerous method of treatment in an attempt to understand the human body and to help the sick.
Physicians needed a way to get to the veins of their patients quickly, so several tools were fabricated over the centuries, ensuring a swift puncture; even some punctures with a measurable degree of incision. These tools consisted of lancets and scarifications, which opened the vein; then there were cupping cups and leeches, which allowed a more localized draw from the capillaries. Davis and Apel state, "in the eighteenth century, delicate mechanical spring lancets and scarifications were invented to...

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