back to top
Health

If You Get Over 8/11 On This Quiz Then You're A Medical History Expert

Medical advancement has been a crazy ride, y'all.

Posted on
  1. 1.

    Bloodletting
    UmbertoPantalone / Getty Images

    A procedure that started with the Ancient Egyptians and stuck around until the 19th century. It involved removing sometimes large quantities of blood from the body — usually by cutting into the vein in the forearm, but also by applying leeches — in order to treat all sorts of illnesses, including the plague, smallpox, and epilepsy. Doctors did this because they believed illnesses were caused by an imbalance in bodily fluids, and that by removing blood, it would restore balance.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    This was definitely real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    This wasn't real
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It was real.

    Eventually, doctors realized that removing a patient's blood only made them sicker — or killed them — so they stopped performing the treatment. That said, it's still performed occasionally (using modern techniques!), to treat conditions like hemochromatosis, which results in excess iron in the body. And sterile leeches are sometimes used to drain excess blood in some parts of the body, for example, after surgery.

    It was real.
    Via commons.wikimedia.org
  2. 2.

    Trepanation
    Matveev_Aleksandr / Getty Images

    Performed for thousands of years, from prehistoric times into the 19th century, trepanation was a procedure where doctors would drill or create a hole in a patient's skull to expose the brain — often without pain medicine or anesthesia. It was believed that doing so would help treat hysteria and psychosis.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Crazy, but real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Nahhh, not real
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It was real.

    When doctors found out it wasn't an effective psychiatric treatment, they stopped using it for this purpose. However, iterations of the procedure are still used today to relieve pressure in patients' skulls when there's bleeding or swelling.

    It was real.
    Via Flickr: vivacomopuder
  3. 3.

    Yellow fever baths
    terex / Getty Images

    In the late 1800s, before discovering that yellow fever was caused by a virus spread by mosquitoes, doctors would bathe their patients in cold milk baths hoping that they would cool the patients down while also extracting the sickness through osmosis.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    This happened
    Correct
    Incorrect
    This wasn't real
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This never happened.

    I made it up. But yellow fever was actually found to be transmitted by mosquitoes in the early 1900s, and nearly 30 years later scientists discovered that a virus was responsible.

  4. 4.

    Hemiglossectomy<br />
    Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images

    Thought to cure stuttering and other speech defects, hemiglossectomies involved cutting off half or a part of the tongue. It was mostly practiced during the medieval era but continued until the 17th century, before it was ended for being inhumane and ineffective.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    100% real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    No way this is real<br />
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It was real.

    It was also done with crude instruments and no anesthesia — HARSH. Today, glossectomies might be done (under anesthesia) only when a patient has mouth cancer or another oral disease.

  5. 5.

    Plugging therapy<br />

    During the height of WWI, factory workers making weapons like shells and bullets worked long hours, and it was often hot. To combat the excessive sweating from these conditions, their doctors would tell them to rub wax in the areas most affected by sweat. This clogged the pores temporarily and reduced sweating significantly.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Yup, it was real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Nice try. Not real
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This was not real.

    I made it up.

  6. 6.

    Urine Therapy
    pabloborca / Getty Images

    Coming from ancient Indian medicine, urine therapy was based on the belief that urine was the filtered and purified "gold of the blood." So people would drink their own urine and massage it into their skin to treat stings, minor illnesses, and even some cancers.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Absurd, but real AF
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Hahaha NO
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It was real.

    Maybe they realized that it was just a human waste product, maybe they didn't. But either way, urine therapy ended around the 19th century — although people still believe that peeing on a jellyfish sting is an adequate treatment. It's not.

  7. 7.

    Spinal shocking

    A procedure from the late 1800s that involved injecting a saline solution into a person’s neck and then shocking their brains (specifically the cerebellum) with small currents of electricity. It was believed that the currents would stimulate the growth of neural connections and improve a person’s IQ — the saline solution served as a conduit for the electrical currents to reach the brain.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Real AF<br />
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Nope, not real at all
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This wasn't real.

    I made it up.

  8. 8.

    The electric belt
    nattaya_maphichai / Getty Images

    Similar to those ab stimulator belts that exist today — y'know, the ones that don't actually give you six-pack abs — the electric belt consisted of several battery cells linked around a belt, and capable of delivering electric currents and stimulation to the abdomen in order to promote digestion and treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

    Correct
    Incorrect
    This was real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Nope, not real at all
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This was real.

    Created in 1850 and phased out as a medical treatment in the 1950s, the belt was sold by quack doctors to unknowing people who dealt with ED.

    This was real.
    Via en.wikipedia.org
  9. 9.

    Heliotherapy for tuberculosis
    AGrigorjeva / Getty Images

    Patients — specifically those with pulmonary tuberculosis — were told to take "air baths" first, for as little as five minutes per day, before increasing their exposure to fresh air over time. Then, once "habituated to the air for a period of an hour or more," they could begin taking "sun baths" (heliotherapy), while also increasing their exposure each day. Once acclimated, patients could expose themselves to the sun for as long as necessary as long as they weren't getting sunburned. This exposure was believed to improve symptoms.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    I'm not stupid, this was real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    I'm not stupid, this was fake
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Believe it or not, this was real.

    Although never proven to actually work, a paper on the subject from 1928 suggested the sun could potentially stimulate the production of vitamins and antibodies. More recent research has suggested that moderate sun exposure may have helped the immune system by spurring vitamin D production, However, the only known way to cure tuberculosis is by using antibiotics.

  10. 10.

    Farts in a jar<br />
    Kimbra Ritchie / Getty Images

    In 1665, during the Great Plague of London, doctors believed that the illness was caused by deadly vapors in the air. They thought that these vapors could be fought through exposure to equally foul-smelling vapors, so they told their patients to fart in jars. When the plague reached the patients' towns, they could open their jars and inhale the gas inside.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Lol real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Psshhh, not real<br />
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This was real.

    Medical knowledge was nowhere near where it is today, so obviously it didn't work. But hey, whatever let them sleep at night.

  11. 11.

    The Hippocratic bench

    First described in the 5th century BCE, the Hippocratic bench was one of the first forms of treatment for spinal deformities, including scoliosis. Depending on what needed fixing, patients would lie down on the table, have certain parts of their lower and upper bodies tied with rope or bands, and then have the ropes pulled upward and downward in an effort to stretch the spine straight.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    This was actually real
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Fake news
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This was real!

    Welp, I thought I had made it up, but this was actually real. Also known as the scamnum, the Hippocratic bench was further developed by physicians later on, including Galen of Pergamon (129 to circa 200 CE), who coined the term scoliosis and tailored treatment on it based on the individual curvature of patients' spines. (The bench was also the precursor to the torture device, the rack). Many doctors today consider the scamnum to be the forerunner of traction devices used in orthopedics and neurosurgery.

Take quizzes and chill with the BuzzFeed app.