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Whistler-type laryngeal cutting dilator, London, England, 1902-1930

When the larynx becomes restricted and narrowed, breathing becomes difficult. This instrument is used to open up the larynx when this condition, called stenosis, occurs. The leaf-shaped bulbs are screwed on to the top and the instrument is placed down the throat. When the lever is pushed, a blade emerges. This blade would cut open any restrictions. This example comes with two spare blades. The instrument was invented by Dr Whistler around 1877 and remained a popular instrument until the early 1900s.

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Glossary: larynx

An organ in the neck of mammals involved in protection of the trachea (windpipe) and sound production.

Glossary: stenosis

Narrowing of a duct or canal

Glossary: dilator

An instrument for expanding something or a part of something. In surgery this is often a passageway or an organ.