Pneumothorax Apparatus

[This post was researched and written by a Respiratory Care student who studied at the museum this semester.]

The Davidson Pneumothorax Apparatus was patented in 1933 by Louis R. Davidson, a tuberculosis specialist.  It was used to treat tuberculosis by causing an artificial pneumothorax (collapsing the lung by directly introducing air in the chest cavity).  This treatment, originally developed in the 1890’s by Carlos Forlanini, was thought to heal the lung quickly by allowing the lung to rest.  This modified version which replaced Forlanini’s device and became a well-known instrument, was used to treat tuberculosis until the BCG vaccine became popular in the mid 1940’s.

Davidson Pneumothorax apparatus

The Davidson Pneumothorax Apparatus consists of a five way valve where the pressure in the chest cavity was measured in order to induce an accurate measurement of air into this space to collapse the lung.  Connected to the five way valve are inlet and outlet tubing, a manometer, pair of reservoirs, and an operating needle.  Reservoirs are able to move and are found at the lower end of the device so that it will expel air or aspirate air as needed.

image from patent application
image from patent application

The Davidson Pneumothorax Apparatus was a portable device operated by a physician at a patient’s home, in a doctor’s office, or in the hospital.  [The apparatus in our collection was donated by the Mahoning County Tuberculosis Sanitarium, which was located in Austintown, OH from 1925 to 1973.] It was considered a high end product during it’s time and was sold for approximately $75- $80.  This device was mass produced but, due to its’ price, the Davidson Pneumothorax Apparatus was most commonly found in the hospital setting.

Face plate on apparatus

The Davidson Pneumothorax Apparatus was manufactured by J. Sklar Manufacturing Company.  J. Sklar Manufacturing Company was originally founded in Long Island, New York.  It was moved to West Chester Pennsylvania after the Sklar family sold the company in the late 1980’s.  The Sklar Company is still in business specializing in all hand held surgical instruments.  Instruments include more than 10,000 patterns of precision- crafted, stainless steel surgical instruments for the OB/GYN, orthopedic, dental, ENT, cardiovascular, endoscopic, dermatology and veterinary markets.  In addition, Sklar Company manufactures sterile disposable instruments, procedure trays and supplies as well as polishes, lubricants and disinfectants for superior instrument care.

6 thoughts on “Pneumothorax Apparatus

  1. Hello, my father in law gave my husband his pneumothorax, just like the one you have here. We are interested in selling it. It is in perfect shape, the only thing it is missing is one of the cat tripes and the long kneedles. Could you point the way?

    1. I have no expertise in buying or selling medical artifacts. I would guess that the market for a machine like this is very small. My best suggestion would be to try to sell it to an antiques dealer or put it on ebay.

    2. Hi there, Javier –
      The market is small but I found you. I work for a small medical museum and we need more objects for a TB display. Can you get in touch with me through the contact box here:
      http://publichealthmuseum.org/contact-2/
      I want to avoid spam by not leaving my info here. Hope you still have this object!

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