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Amputation knife, Paris, France, 1701-1800

Science Museum, London


Free to use with attribution CC BYCredit: Science Museum, London
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Made from steel with an ebony handle, this surgical knife was used for amputations. Its curved shape was typical of amputation knives of the period, when surgeons tended to make a circular cut through the skin and muscle around the bone before that was then cut with a saw. In time, the technique changed and the initial cutting left a flap of skin which could then be used to cover the exposed limb stump. A straight knife was found to be better for this technique, so curved amputation knives gradually disappeared in the 1800s. It is thought that this example was made by Vigneron, a surgical instrument maker in Paris, France, sometime in the 1700s. At this time, patients had at best only alcohol or herbal remedies for pain relief. maker: Vigneron Place made: Paris, Ville de Paris, Île-de-France, France


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Amputation knife, Paris, France, 1701-1800. Credit: Science Museum, London. CC BY

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