Medicine in the service of engineering: when the mechanical saw was invented to assist in childbirth

Medicine in the service of engineering: when the power saw was invented to assist in childbirth
Medicine in the service of engineering: when the power saw was invented to assist in childbirth

The mechanical saw is an invention that increases the capacity and efficiency of the saw blades enormously. But few people would think of it as this tool It was invented to cut bones and cartilage, not wood.

Yes, the mechanical saw, a curious and useful tool where it exists, the protagonist of many anecdotes in popular culture and horror stories, in reality. It seemed to be a medical element, the goal of which was to help children give birth.

When two doctors invented a mechanical saw for childbirth

Imagine the panorama from the end of the 18th century. Birth is still very difficult for women today, but until then Not only was it difficult, it was also very dangerous. Having a baby could be a source of infection, bleeding, and a variety of potentially fatal problems for both mother and child (today, of course).

One of the big problems of birth was and is when the child “gets on the head”; that is, with your legs ahead. This keeps the baby embedded in the birth canal, which can be fatal to both him and the mother. At this time, when a caesarean section could not be performed, an operation known as symphysiotomy was carried out extensively.

Point 5, in black, is the pubic symphysis, which is divided into two

Symphysiotomie it consists in cutting the cartilage of the pubic hair and dividing it into two parts, This allows the hip to open wider, enlarging the birth canal and allowing the child to exit if it is stuck. However, cutting bones and cartilage is not an easy task.

For this reason John Aitken decided to improve the intervention tools, for which he developed a device that was new at the time: a saw with a crank drive. Regardless, James Jeffray came out with the same idea a few years after Aitken. In any case, the result of their work The first mechanical saw in history has emerged,

Medicine in the service of technology

Few will have passed this application a brutal impact on other engineering-related issues as practical as mechanical applications. The mechanized saws existed before, but they were discs. This caused various problems. First, the fact that they could not easily be used by an energy source (water, heat, electricity). Another problem was his bad mania of blocking.

It was the medicine that gave rise to the electric saw that is used to cut trees
It was the medicine that gave rise to the electric saw that is used to cut trees

The invention of the mechanical saw was an achievement: If I could cut bones anywhere, could easily cut wood or other materials, And in fact it was. Currently, chainsaws have become little specialized elements that are useful for all types of work. Especially in mechanical engineering, where modern chain saws with special teeth that withstand physical stress play an important role.

The best saws were invented to cut bones

Back to the medical topic, luckily, Today it is no longer advisable to use the symphysiotomy in the usual way which has been replaced by cesarean section and other more modern procedures. However The mechanical saw was strangely popular for almost two centuries, In addition, it is still very necessary for some surgical procedures today.

Doctors literally cut us like trunks when necessary
Doctors literally cut us like trunks when necessary

Even more curious is that its popularity has been lost due to it the Gigli Mountainsat least for amputations; because it seems to be more effective and efficient when cutting bones than the mechanical saw. And finally Some of the greatest developments in tools have occurred in the medical environmentas I said.

And it has logic. The body should resist. Tissues like bones are overwhelmingly durable, and great inventiveness is required to overcome their hardness, With the mechanical saw, evolution at its finest (if we can use that word) has brought us to the roughest. And luckily, because nobody wants to see how they use a mechanical saw at birth.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here