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Surgery museum holds wonders for the brave

8:30am, April 7, 2014

BODY WORK  Anatomical displays sit alongside art depicting medical history at the International Museum of Surgical Science.

You would expect a place called the International Museum of Surgical Science to display a lot of sharp-edged instruments — and does it ever. From ancient blades used to cut holes in a patient’s skull (a still-mysterious procedure called trepanation) to the modern devices used to remove blockages from blood vessels, this Chicago museum provides a fascinating historical tour of surgical technology.

In many cases the old gadgets on display would be thoroughly familiar to today’s physicians. Surgical tools unearthed from the Roman city of Pompeii, smothered by volcanic ash in the year 79, are barely different from their modern analogs. These and other relics will appeal especially to those who are medically inclined or have an interest in history.

Yet the museum doesn’t just dwell on past glories. Visitors can see how prosthetics have advanced from the days of peg legs and hooks to high-tech devices made with

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