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Metacarpal saw, nineteenth century

Metacarpal saw, nineteenth century

C022/6675

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Metacarpal saw with lignum vitae handle, dating from nineteenth century England. Lignum vitae is an extremely tough, dense wood from trees of the genus Guaiacum. This instrument was used for cutting the metacarpals (bones of the hand) in amputation procedures. Amputation was generally the only treatment option when infection or trauma occurred in the limbs and extremities (such as the fingers) in nineteenth century medicine, before the introduction of antibiotics and more refined surgical techniques.

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