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Enema syringe, Europe, 1831-1870

Enema syringes vary in shape and material but they are all intended to introduce liquids such as medications or purgatives into the body via the rectum – a once very common medical procedure. This pewter example is shaped so as to allow the enema to be self-administered and can be fitted with either a rigid or flexible tube. It is made from brass and ivory and is decorated using a technique called japanning. The liquid would be pushed out of the reservoir by pushing down the brass pump. In terms of administering therapeutic medicines, enema syringes were widely used until the mid 1850s, after which the hypodermic syringe increasingly became the drug-delivery system of choice.

Object number:

A606386 Pt1

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Glossary: enema syringe

A syringe for adminstering enemas

Glossary: enema

A liquid injected into the anus. Enemas can be carried out for medical reasons, as a treatment for constipation, or as a way to give drugs.