Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/180

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of sunlight, and enabling an examination to be made at any time of the day or night.

For the clearer comprehension of the reader, I here introduce cut No. 1, which depicts the laryngoscope, or laryngeal mirror. At the left end we see the mirror, which is set in a silver frame and back; this in turn is attached to a metal stem, and the stem itself is set in a wooden handle, which latter is merely a matter of convenience by which the physician is enabled to handle it with more ease and facility

PSM V12 D180 Laryngeal mirror.jpg
Fig. 1.

The mirror is made of various sizes, from that of a cent to that of a silver half-dollar, and is so attached to the stem as to describe an angle of 120° to 125°.

Prior to the discovery of the laryngoscope, the great obstacle to the diagnosis and comprehension of disease of the larynx lay in the fact that this organ was so placed as to be at an almost direct angle to the line of vision. If we look into the mouth of another person, we see the back of the mouth; but if we wish to see the larynx, or organ of tone and voice, we are unable to do it, even though its position is just back of and below the root of the tongue. And, even though we press down the tongue, we derive no aid. Nor are we enlightened by symptoms of pain or discomfort in the throat, for these are not only insufficient, but may be absolutely deceptive. A patient may complain of aches and pains, and may imagine them in the larynx, and all the while the organ be in a perfectly sound state; and, on the other hand again, grave forms of throat-disease may exist, and with so little of actual pain as to cause the victim hardly any uneasiness. The revolution in this department of the medical art may perhaps be best illustrated when I refer to the fact that ere the introduction of the laryngeal mirror, barely twenty years ago, there were but two or three forms of laryngeal disease recognized or treated of in the text-books on the practice of medicine. At the present time, the study of the numerous and varied diseases of this wonderful little organ, the larynx, has made such strides that laryngology has, like ophthalmology, otology, and gynæcology, demanded and received recognition as a separate and distinct department of medical practice, and has its special practitioners in almost every city of size and population. Whereas, formerly, the two or three recognized forms of throat-disease were dismissed in a scant dozen of pages in the medical text-works, we now have exhaustive and elaborate treatises in all of the great languages of the civilized world. Twenty