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MacKenzie-type double tonsil guillotine, London, England, 1869-1900

Tonsillectomy by guillotine was a standard treatment in the late 1800s for those who experienced recurring throat infections. This type of tonsil guillotine was invented by Morell Mackenzie (1837-92), a physician and laryngologist. The double guillotine meant both tonsils could be removed at the same time. In 1884, the instrument was described in his book 'A Manual of Disease of the Throat and Nose'. Tonsillectomy by guillotine fell out of favour in the early 1900s due to the high numbers of people who suffered haemorrhaging and recurrent sore throats. Parts of the tonsils would also be left behind. This example was made by Mayer & Meltzer, a surgical instrument maker based in London.

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Glossary: tonsil guillotine

Historical instrument once used for the removal of tonsils.

Glossary: tonsillectomy

The surgical removal of the tonsils.