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Uterine dilator, Paris, France, 1870-1900

A uterine dilator is used to open the uterus to perform surgical or diagnostic procedures. This example is made of chromium-plated steel and measures 355 mm in length. The instrument was introduced into the cervix with the blades closed and gradually opened up using the screw. Undoubtedly this would have caused the patient discomfort and pain. Made by Collin, a surgical instrument maker based in Paris, a leading French gynaecologist, Dr Paul Segond (1851-1912), is believed to have invented this type of dilator.

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Glossary: uterine dilator

Gynaecological instrument consisting of prongs and handles used to dilate the cervix. This could be done to assist child delivery or to carry out abortions.

Glossary: obstetrics

A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.

Glossary: gynaecology

A branch of medicine dealing with the treatment of disorders affecting the female reproductive system.

Glossary: cervix

Neck of the uterus, projecting downwards into the vagina.