(A dim. of cucurbita; so called from its shape). A cupping glass; an instrument of great antiquity, being mentioned by Hippocrates, and formerly made of horn or metal. Different names have been given to them, according as they were used with or without scarifications, as leves, arentes,siccatae, etc. The ancients employed them with narrow mouths for drawing more forcibly, and with wider mouths for drawing more gently, as they were exhausted by the breath. The principle on which all cupping glasses act, is the exhaustion of the air; from which the parts under the glass rise in it, and their vessels, when the pressure is removed, are distended. The delicacy of the operation consists in exhausting the glass so far that the vessels under it may be filled, but not that the edges of the glass may press so firmly around as to impede the circulation; a medium, it may be supposed, easily pre-served: yet the operation, except in the hands of professed artists, often fails. The failure is not of consequence when cupping only is employed; but if evacuations are also required, this error renders them trifling or ineffectual. When scarifications are not wanted, it is, termed dry cupping.

The old mode of applying a cupping glass, now obsolete, was to expel the air by heat: the wick of a spirit lamp, or a little inflamed tow, was put within the cupping glass, which was, after a little time, applied to the part, to which it adhered with a strong attraction, as the air was rarefied. At present the air is exhausted by an air pump. The use of dry cupping is to invite the fluids to the place where the glass is applied, in order to remove them from the internal parts. The operation should be repeated until the part becomes red, and is in pain. It very nearly resembles, in its operation, blisters; and the scarifications supersede the use of leeches. We have found them equally effectual.

When scarification is used with cupping, the part should first be dry cupped until it appear red; then the incision should be made with the scarificator. If scarifications are to be made in several parts, it is more convenient to begin below and proceed upwards. After the scarifications are made, the air must be excluded from the glass, when, from the pressure around, the vessels usually bleed freely. When the operation is ended, to stop the bleeding a little spirit of wine may be applied; but sometimes warm water, with a slight pressure, is sufficient.

This operation seldom seems necessary, except when blood cannot be obtained by opening a vein in the usual manner. Celsus, lib. ii. cap. 11, observes, that "cupping is needful when the body is to be relieved in some acute disorder, and yet the strength does not admit of a loss of blood from the veins."it is true, that the slow dischaage of blood by cupping does not lessen the force of the arterial system so much as the same quantity of blood suddenly taken away from a vein: but in such cases, as Celsus supposes, some evacuation is often necessary, and no other is admissible except bleeding by leeches.

Cupping has been preferred in apoplexies, epilepsies, and some kinds of convulsions, because the spasms are supposed to be increased by the speedier discharge of blood which is the consequence of phlebotomy; but they are in reality more useful, because the plethora is local rather than topical.

See Coelius Aurelianus, Celsus. Morgagni, Hoffman, Haller, Bell's Surgery, vol. i. p. 154, etc. White's Surgery, p. 180.