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Rynd-type hypodermic syringe, London, England, 1860-1880

In 1844, Francis Rynd (1801-61) developed the first syringe with a hollow needle, although he did not publicise it until 1861 after a rival claim to have invented the hypodermic syringe. With this particular example, Rynd used a cannula (a thin hollow tube) and a trocar (a sharp needle-like point). An incision is made by a lancet and the trocar inserted into the skin. The thin hollow tube, opened at both ends, is fitted over the top of the trocar. Once the cannula was inserted, the trocar was retracted and the medications or fluids placed into the cannula. Made by John Weiss, a surgical instrument maker, this example is constructed from steel and ivory and carried in a leatherette case. Hypodermic needles are hollow so treatments can be injected in the body under the skin. The needles are angled so that the sharp point easily penetrates the skin.

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    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.