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Set of stomach pumping instruments, London, England, 1870-1901

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A large brass piston action syringe and flexible tubing are contained in this combined stomach pump and enema set. There are also accessories for rectal and vaginal use including a wooden cone-shaped instrument for treating prolapsed piles. It was made by London medical instrument makers S. Maw, Son and Thompson. The set fits into a wooden box with recessed velvet compartments. An enema is the introduction of liquid into the rectum. The treatment dates back to ancient Egypt. It was a common treatment during the 1800s when this set was made. Enemas are now administered before certain surgery to either wash out the lower bowel as a hygiene measure, or introduce medications, salts or minerals into the body. In the past they were prescribed for complaints and ailments as minor as indigestion or headaches.

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Glossary: genito-urinary medicine

The branch of medicine dealing with the genital and urinary organs.

Glossary: stomach pump

An apparatus for removing the contents of the stomach by means of suction. A stomach pumping is performed using a flexible rubber tube that is passed through the mouth and advanced to the stomach. This procedure includes the instillation of a balanced salt solution into the stomach (via the tube) followed by suctioning the fluid out of the stomach. It is an effective procedure in the treatment of toxic ingestions.