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Pneumothorax Machine

By  Anna Dumitriu 2013 - 2014

Anna Dumitriu

This altered Pneumothorax Machine was originally used to collapse the lungs of unfortunate patients in order to give them “a proper rest” in the belief that this would give them a chance to repair themselves, and also that it would cut off the oxygen supply to the tuberculosis (TB) bacteria and kill them. Around one third of pulmonary (lung) TB patients underwent some form of so-called ‘collapse therapy’ between the 1930s and 1950s until antibiotic treatments replaced this unpleasant procedure. The object is transformed through intricate carving and engraving. The carved case reminds us of the texture of the lung tissue as the immune system attempts to ‘wall off’ the ‘foreign’ TB bacteria that it cannot eliminate. The engraving represents a positive sputum smear test made using a Ziehl–Neelsen staining technique.

Anna Dumitriu

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