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The field of medicine is in a constant state of change, as technology and pharmacology advance each year as we find better way to treat and prevent disease and disability. This means that what was once cutting-edge medical technology becomes outdated and, in some cases, dangerous. These medical procedures aren’t done much any more, if at all.
Those unlucky enough to be stricken with tuberculosis before quality drugs were developed went through a procedure that sounds pretty barbaric to modern ears. Plombage involved packing part of the chest cavity with an inert material, such as Lucite balls, paraffin wax, gauze or simply air. This would cause the infected lung to collapse, and it was felt that a collapsed lung would heal faster.
Even though the originator of the lobotomy shared the 1949 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the benefits some patients received, the practice of cutting the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex has always been controversial. Whatever benefits were noted were almost always coupled with detrimental effects that rendered the patient unable to function normally.
Yes, a disease was used to treat another disease — syphilis. Those who were suffering from late-stage syphilis would be inoculated with malaria, because it was found that those who experienced high fevers could fight the disease better. Malaria, at the time, could be treated with a drug called quinine, so it was considered an acceptable risk.
Kidney and bladder stones are no joke, and even in modern times, they aren’t fun to deal with. But at least you don’t have to have your hind end cut open, without anesthetic, and have them pried out manually.
Bloodletting was an extremely common method of treating disease up until the late 19th century. The idea was that draining the blood would also drain out the disease, but as you can imagine, it didn’t really work all that great. Turns out, you need the red stuff, and you can’t kill germs by draining your blood. There are a couple of diseases that are benefited by the practice, but they are extremely rare.