This week: May 26, 2017 - John Waterston - Italy Impressions

This Week: Old School Surgical Tools by Mark Harris


Posted on May 19th

A quick glance at our gallery of some of history’s gnarliest surgical tools will definitely make you thankful for just how far our industry has progressed throughout time. Browse through images and descriptions of surgical tools dating as far back as the 1600’s – a time when surgery was definitely not for the squeamish.

You might think your HMO plan is scary, but at least it doesn’t use these vintage surgical instruments…hopefully.

Amputation Knife (1700s) Knives used for amputations during the 18th century were typically curved, because surgeons tended to make a circular cut through the skin and muscle before the bone was cut with a saw. By the 1800s, straight knives became more popular because they made it easier to leave a flap of skin that could be used to cover the exposed stump.


Amputation Saw (1600s) While some surgeons chose to flaunt their wealth with elaborately decorated saws like this, the crevices in the intricate engravings proved to be a breeding ground for germs.


Arrow Remover (1500s) Not much is known about this tool, but it is hypothesized that it was inserted into the wound in a contracted position, with the central shaft used to grasp the arrow. The blades, which appear to have their sharp edges facing outward, were then expanded using the scissor-like handles, thus expanding the flesh around the arrow to prevent the arrowhead from ripping through the meat as it was pulled out.

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