Craniotomy instruments

Dr Brian Watson (MBChB, 1953) has donated a set of 19th century craniotomy instruments to the Birmingham Medical School.

The set comprises forceps, a blunt hook and crotchet, a Simpson perforator and a Braxton-Hicks ‘improved’ cephalotribe.

Dr Watson said, ‘The instruments originally belonged to a Dr Line, who was in practice in the 1800’s and who was reputed to have been a Master in Obstetrics at the Rotunda in Dublin. They were passed down to me from my partner, who had in turn inherited them from Dr Line’s son, also a medical practitioner.

‘The instruments would have been used at a time when malnutrition in the Irish population would have resulted in a high incidence of Rickets with accompanying flattened pelvis in the female population, making normal delivery sometimes impossible. They may have been used as a delivery set, however it is far more likely that they were used as a destruction set.

‘These instruments have remained in a drawer in my surgery since I took over my practice in 1961. I wanted to give to them to a centre for medical excellence like the University, where they might be of some interest.’

Dr Jonathan Reinarz, Director for the History of Medicine Unit said, ‘We are very grateful to Dr Watson for donating these fascinating instruments to us. It’s a current gap in our collection and will help give our students insight into midwifery practices in the 18th and 19th century.’

The Medical School plans to exhibit these instruments along with others in our midwifery and obstetrics collection at the end of 2014.