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The Bladder Stone Crusher

Man & machine

This stone crusher was invented by a man named Sir Henry Thompson (pictured right).  He was an amazing man and people called him a "polymath" (someone who knows lots about a wide variety of things).

The instrument below is called a lithotrite (that's Greek for "stone crushing").

As you can see from the video podcast, the stone crusher is a funny shape. It is silver in colour and the end that goes into the patient is curvy.

It is used for breaking up stones in people's bladders: when it was first designed, stones in the bladder were much commoner than they are today.

To use it, you must twist the wheel on the end that works the crushing jaws, but you need to be careful because you can't see the stone or the crushing end - they're inside the patient and there's no telescope.

Take a look at the video podcasts; one of them shows the Thompson lithotrite in action ... not on a stone, of course, but on a boiled sweet!  

To see a different method of stone crushing that is used today, click here.

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