Artificial Leeches

  1. Published on November 14, 2011

Leeches were also a favourite method for bleeding patients and a number of mechanical “artificial leeches” were devised for the same purpose.

A Heurteloup Artificial Leech

They used different methods of venepuncture, some with a single sprung lancet, others with a rotating cylindrical knife.

They were all characterised by the use of a collecting chamber, usually a syringe which was capable of generating a vacuum into which the blood could be collected.

In this respect the mechanism was very similar to wet cupping. However,  because the cutting area was small and could be applied to restricted areas, they were often used for very specific purposes such as bleeding around the eyes and face.

The example shows a Heurteloup artificial leech, after Dr Baron Charles Louis Heurteloup (1793-1864) which uses a rotating blade mechanism.

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