This day in 1801 the inventor of the hypodermic needle, Francis Rynd, was born in Dublin, Ireland into a privileged family. He entered the prestigious Trinity College to study medicine at the age of 16 and then interned in the charitable Meath Hospital who looked after the poor of Dublin, where he worked free of charge. Dr. Rynd later set up a very successful private practice in Hume Street in Dublin administering to the rich and famous in the city. In 1830 Dr. Rynd was elected to the Royal College of Surgeons and accepted a position as surgeon, again in the Meath Hospital. The hospital was internationally renowned as a great centre for medical training and research. Many innovations were pioneered there, but arguably the most important was Dr. Rynd’s technique for injecting substances directly under a patient’s skin. link
In 1844 Dr. Rynd was presented with a patient who had a history of facial pain due to neuralgia. The patient had tried the usual treatments of drinking morphine to relieve the pain, to no avail. In an effort to relieve the patient, Dr. Rynd designed a hollow needle to be able to insert liquids directly under the skin, thereby giving the patient a powerful local anaesthetic in her face. The world’s first hypodermic syringe was born.
His improvised syringe was made from two medical implements: a small tube, or cannula, and a cutting device called a trocar (a surgical instrument with a three-sided cutting point enclosed in a tube, used for withdrawing fluid from a body cavity). Dr. Rynd recorded that afterwards the woman slept well for the first time in months.
Dr Rynd’s legacy was secure thanks to historical documents including an article he wrote in the Dublin Medical Press. In it, he documented how he had injected fluids into a patient with a hypodermic syringe.
It was published in 1845. link
Florence Nightingale herself commented that nothing gave her relief “but a curious little new-fangled operation of putting opium under the skin”. link
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