I’ve just found a page with some beautiful pictures of antique neurosurgery tools, including these trephining or trepanning tools for cutting holes in the skull. Can you imagine the elbow work needed to get the job done?
After a bit of a search I discovered that there’s a healthy market in neurosurgical tools on the net, old and new.
Advances in the History of Psychology discovered an antique trepanning brace that’s currently for sale for a cool $1900.
One antique dealer even has a receipt for a trepanning operation from 1814. It turns out you could get your head drilled for $20 in early 19th century Massachusetts.
If you’re after some more modern kit, it turns out you can pick up quite a few contemporary surgical tools on eBay.
Including this VectorVision2 BrainLab system, a snip (excuse the pun) at $15,000.
The VectorVision2 is an ‘augmented reality’ image guidance system (sometimes called frameless stereotaxy) that allows the surgeon to see where his tools are in relation to both the patient and a matched brain scan image – while the operation is in progress.
While the tools can be bought and sold online, most of the anaesthetics are, of course, controlled drugs.
So while you may be able to get the latest high-tech kit on eBay, you’re still going to have to resort to those traditional 19th century surgical painkillers: brandy, and a stiff upper lip.