Aurists’ Treatments for Eustachian Tube Obstruction

In 1834, the aurist William Wright published a treatise addressed to the Honorable Members of the Committee of Inquiry into the State of the Medical Profession. The treatise, The Present State of Aural Surgery; or, Methods of Treating Deafness, Diseases of the Ears, and the Deaf and Dumb (London: T. Hurst, 1834), attempted to assess the various types of cures and practices offered by (mostly) London-based aurists in order to assess the “scientific merits” of aural surgery.

Wright actually ends up spending much of the treatise devoted to outlining various treatments for dealing Eustachian Tube obstruction, and the resulting symptoms of deafness following an obstruction, in order to criticize how aurists proceeded with treatment:

  • Mr. Cleland, Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Wathen in 1755 proposed cleansing the guttural passage of the ear by introducing a tube through the nose—a method Wright also employed in 1818.
  • Nicolas Deleau: “introduces a flexible tube through the ear, which is connected o a large vessel containing condensed air, which upon turning a stop clock, rushes air into the Tube.” The douches d’air.
  • Mr. Tod: “passes an instrument through the nose to the Tube and to its termination in the cavity beneath the drum of the ear.”
  • Mr. Mason: iodine in various modifications used to relieve deafness by thickening the membraneous lining of the tube
  • John Stevenson: touching the tonsils and adjacent parts with either a solution of lunar caustic or some stimulating application
  • John Harrison Curtis: removing  obstructions by stopping the external auditory passage with cerate—using the same principles of sound effects produced by a diving bell.
  • John Cunningham Saunders: mercury applied on the auditory passages of the Ear.

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