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Four scalpels and a hernia bistoury, cased, London, England, 1901-1930

Scalpels have been used for hundreds of years. Some examples made of stone date from Ancient Egyptian times. This military issue instrument set consists of four scalpels and a hernia bistoury. A hernia bistoury is a curved surgical knife. It includes instruments from three English makers: Arnold and Son, Down Brothers, and Allen and Hanbury. These instruments can be fully sterilised, meaning they can be re-used without fear of causing infection. Non-sterilised instruments were used in the previous century. This often led to the fatal introduction of bacteria into the wound site. Modern surgical scalpels are usually made of hardened steel which can be sterilised and re-used or disposed of safely.

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    Glossary: surgical instrument set

    Set of instruments to be used for surgery. A physician would often build up their own collection of favoured tools in order to feel as comfortable as possible when carrying out surgery.

    Glossary: scalpel

    A small thin sharp blade used by surgeons.

    Glossary: surgery

    trial term S&H