The scalpel is one of the oldest tools, which means that people have been trying to cut themselves and each other open for quite a while. In the Middle Stone Age, people used flint knives to cut open skulls. This was about 8000 BC and 3000 years later, in 5000 BC, obsidian knives were found in Turkey. Through the centuries, scalpels have been made from titanium, ceramic, diamond, stainless steel, and even silver. And these cutting tools weren’t just used for human bodies! They were and are used in art, calligraphy, and cooking.
The Price of Surgery
Archeological evidence shows that we’ve been trying to do brain surgery, cut out tumors and cancers, and rid ourselves of disease for as long as we made the connection that these ailments eventually killed us. Unfortunately, before anesthesia and Germ Theory, cutting into a person often resulted in death. This is why Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, said to “do no harm” (this is part of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians take today). Many times, people lived longer if the cancer or tumor in them was left untouched. Surgery back in Hippocrates’ time led to infection and death which would take a person out way faster than the disease, not to mention the pain could only be numbed (barely) by a bit by some wine.
Scalpel and Friends
It’s impossible to talk about the scalpel without talking about its friends. We say “friends” because without them, surgery would be a traumatic experience. Imagine having a limb or lump removed with no anesthesia (local or general). Imagine being in all that pain and then seeing infection and gangrene setting in. Today, surgery looks nothing like it did in the past. Operating rooms are sterilized, scalpels are sterilized, you’re put under, and when you wake up you’re full of painkillers and antibiotics. Sure, complications still happen, but compared to people living 500 years ago, we are living in a surgical golden age.
Scalpels in 2021
Today, scalpels are mostly made of stainless steel, though ones that are used during an MRI are made of non-metallic materials. These cutting tools of medicine come with a handle and disposable blades. Everyone can buy scalpels: hospitals, schools (for classroom dissections), artists, mortuaries, etc. Most accidents with scalpels actually come from people trying to remove the blade from the handle, so of course, there are one-handed release blades now to keep scalpel accidents down.
Get your own scalpel
To celebrate this simple yet crucial tool of science, we want to share with you the scalpels in our Science Jewelry collection. Our scalpel necklaces come in silver or gold. We also have a pair of scalpel earrings for those who want more than just one scalpel hanging off their body. These tools not only make great jewelry pieces, but they also make great gifts. Purchase one or all for yourself or for a friend. Scalpel jewelry makes an excellent present for surgeons, medical examiners, science teachers, and starry-eyed surgery residents.
written by Science with Evie