Seton clamp, 17th century, steel
This clamp 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.