Seton forceps, Europe, 1601-1800

1601-1800 in Europe

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Forceps, setaceum, 17th or 18th century, steel. Matt black perspex background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Forceps, setaceum, 17th or 18th century, steel

This pair of forceps would have been used to hold the skin on the body while a needle threaded with silk or string would be passed through a hole in each of the flat jaws. This would irritate the skin, creating an outlet for pus and foreign matter, and hopefully cure the original complaint. When these irritating threads had drawn out the infection and the wound had healed the seton would fall out. The word “seton” is derived from seta – a horsehair bristle. Such procedures fell out of use after Joseph Lister’s introduction of antisepsis in the 1860s.


Object Number:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • surgical equipment
  • surgical instrument

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