Wednesday, April 20, 2016

1790: The first feeding tube

The feeding tube may not be directly related to respiratory therapy, although when you consider the big picture, it kind of does.  For instance, to put someone on a ventilator for several weeks would be a moot point if physicians were unable to provide nutrients to the patient.

The feeding tube was invented in 1790, and was another invention by Dr. John Hunter, the same physician who mastered the use of bellows to provide mechanical breaths to asphyxiated infants.  The feeding tube was significant because it helped advance surgery from a "mere technical mode of treatment to a branch of scientific medicine, firmly grounded in physiology and pathology." (1, page 352-355)

His artificial feeding through was a flexible tube inserted into the mouth to the stomach, and it allowed physicians to feed, and thus provide adequate nutrition, patients who were otherwise unable to eat, such as those recovering from complicated operations. (1, page 352-355)

This invention was significant because many physicians prior to him (and even some after) performed surgeries with little regard for anatomy, and therefore little understanding of diseased or injured body tissues and organs.

  1. Garrison, Fielding Hudson, "An introduction to the history of medicine," 1922, Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders Company
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