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Scalpel, London, England, 1822-1869

Surgical knives have been used for hundreds of years. Examples made of stone have been found dating from Egyptian times. Scalpels are small-bladed knives for cutting incisions into the body and its organs. This example dates from the mid-1800s. The ridged handle would not have been hygienic because it would have been difficult to clean effectively. This could have resulted in bacteria being introduced into cuts and the onset of blood poisoning, which can lead to death. Modern surgical scalpels are usually made of hardened steel. This can be sterilised and re-used or disposed of safely.

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Glossary: scalpel

A small thin sharp blade used by surgeons.

Glossary: surgery

trial term S&H