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Petit-type tourniquet, Europe, 1780-1805

Petit-type tourniquet, Europe, 1780-1805

Credits: Science Museum

The tourniquet is used to apply pressure to stop heavy bleeding, especially during amputations. John-Louis Petit (1674-1760), a Parisian surgeon, was the first of many to introduce improvements to the tourniquet. In 1718, Petit attached a circular bandage to a screw and a leather pad in order to apply pressure to a specific point. This Petit-type tourniquet became the most commonly used tourniquet throughout the 1800s, possibly due to its simple but effective design. This tourniquet was said to be used by Dr Leonard Gillespie (1758-1842), the surgeon assigned to the warship HMS Victory in 1805. HMS Victory was commanded by Horatio Nelson (1785-1805), one of Britain’s most famous naval heroes.

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    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.

    Glossary: tourniquet

    Designed to compress the blood vessels of a limb. It consists of a bandage, pad and screw. By varying the tightness of the tourniquet, it is possible to control the circulation of blood for a short time.