Cauterization, first used in the 16th century, was a method of burning body parts, such as a blood vessels or open wounds to stop bleeding and close amputations. It was thought to prevent infection. In the modern era, doctors use electrocautery devices, which are not heated by fire but instead by an electric current. The unit is powered by a Tesla coil, which produces the high-frequency alternating current needed to make precise cuts and sterilize the area.
This 1930s medical instrument had a foot pedal that allowed a surgeon to stop and start the electric current. The actual knife would have been connected to the terminals on the front of the control unit.
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