Object of the Week: Forceps and a scoop used for performing a 17th century lithotomy

By Ben Miller | 25 November 2015

This week we bring you a set of operating implements from a mid-17th century surgeon’s collection

A photo of a set of 17th century forceps, scissors and other medical surgery implements
© Royal College of Physicians
Richard Kettlebuter - or possibly Kettlebetter - was an experienced surgeon at the height of his powers during the 1650s. Using this steel and wood gorget, forceps and scoop, he would remove bladder stones by making an incision into the organ between the scrotum and the anus, through which the stone was extracted.

With no anaesthetic or sterilisation, the risk of death from shock or infection was considerable. Despite the extreme delicacy of the task, speed was essential to lessen the patient’s trauma.

One of his patients was Samuel Pepys, from whom he removed a stone the size of a snooker ball. Pepys retained the stone and mounted it in gold, marking the anniversary of the operation with a celebratory feast each year.

  • Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution is at the National Maritime Museum until March 28 2016.

More from Culture24's Object of the Week

The pen used by General Douglas MacArthur to signal the end of World War Two

The knitted silk waistcoat worn by Charles I at his execution in 1649

The Japanese Katsura tree in the quarry gardens of Northumberland's Belsay Hall
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