Urinometer (From the Collection #34)

The Story

For several thousand years urine was a, if not the, primary body fluid used in medical diagnoses. Physicians relied on their senses to assess patients’ urine and identify their ailments. Most commonly they studied its colour, smell, and amount of sedimentation. Taste could also be employed, but was used less frequently.

Uroscopy began to fall out of favour in the 16th century and continued to wane as the scientific revolution gained momentum. It was replaced by urinalysis, which relied on chemical and physical analysis rather than the senses.

The urinometer (pictured) was used to determine urine specific gravity or density. The first incarnation of this instrument, a hydrometrum, was developed in the 17th century by Leonard Thurneysser and Jean Baptiste van Helmont. One end is weighted, while the other presents the graduations of gravity measurement. Depending on the gravity of the urine sample, the urinometer will float higher or sink lower. Gravity is determined by the reading on the meter at the meniscus of the sample.

The Specs

ACCESSION # (Web Link):1935.3.1
Object Name:Urinometer
Manufacturer (Country):Unknown (Canada)
Date Made:Circa 1880-1910
MESH Code:Urinalysis
Diabetes Mellitus

Additional Images

About “From the Collection”

“From the Collection” was a project originally published in 2010 to the Museum of Health Care’s website by former Curator Paul Robertson, with the goal being to highlight some the Museum’s most unique items that might be missed in our collection. Each artifact is presented as a bite-sized story, related information, and a link to it’s fully detailed entry on our free online digital catalogue!

Posts in the “From the Collection” series were originally created with support from Funded by the Ontario Museums and Technology Fund. The support of the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is acknowledged.

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