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Probang, 1851-1900

Probangs removed food morsels sticking in the gullet and causing choking. They are used in surgical procedures. However, they also became standard equipment in the dining halls of Victorian asylums. This example has a flexible stem covered in a plastic material. A sponge tip is at one end. The head of the probang opens out once inserted in the throat. This hopefully traps any obstructions within the fine fibres. The instrument is then withdrawn.

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Glossary: asphyxia

condition caused by the inadequate intake of oxygen. Also known as suffocation. Choking is a form of asphyxia.

Glossary: probang

A long, slender, flexible rod having a tuft or sponge at the end, used to remove foreign bodies from or apply medication to the larynx or asophagus

Glossary: asylum

A historic term for a psychiatric hospital. The term in this context was common in the 1700s and 1800s, but is no longer in use.