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Amputation saw, Europe, 1501-1600

The ornate appearance of this amputation saw was not unusual for this period. The saw is 500 mm long yet the blade is barely half of the total length. Such ornate designs declined in the 1600s as the curves and frills of the saw could catch on soft tissue during surgery, causing the patient even more pain. These decorative features also provided a good environment in which germs could thrive. The ornate handles were often uncomfortable for the surgeon to use as the saw had to be gripped tightly to ensure a precise amputation.

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Glossary: amputation saw

Saw used for amputation. These tend to be instruments from the past, and were in common usage from c. 1500-1940 in Europe.

Glossary: anaesthetic

An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

Glossary: amputation

Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.