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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made

Object:Large ivory enema syringe with piston action, French, c.1770


picture zoom related ingenious images © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

Treating patients by means of an enema - the introduction of liquid into the rectum - dates back to ancient Egypt. Today, enemas are administered before certain types of surgery, to wash out the lower bowel as a hygiene measure, or to introduce medications, salts or minerals into the body. In the past they were prescribed for all kinds of complaints, even ailments as minor as indigestion or headaches.

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