Thomas Jefferson UniversityScott Memorial Library

Medical Instruments in the Archives

The Jefferson Archives and Special Collections now has a Twitter account!

The new Twitter site will be used to highlight the Archives collections, including rare books, student notebooks, Civil War era artifacts, antique medical instruments, and much more! Every Monday the Archives will be posting a photograph of an antique medical instrument or artifact to its Twitter, and every Tuesday we will post more information and history on the artifact here.

This week’s question: What are trepanning braces and how were they used?

Answer: Trepanning braces and trephines were instruments used to remove a section of bone from the skull. This practice began in Neolithic times and was used through the 1800s to remove diseases, treat skull fractures, release evil spirits, and treat headaches and epilepsy. Trepanning braces were first used in the 1500s. They required two hands to use (one hand was used to crank the handle), and they often came with interchangeable drill bits. Trepanning braces were largely replaced by trephines in the late 1700s. Most trepanning and trephining sets also included several other instruments: head saws, brushes, elevators, and lenticulars.

trepanning brace 1



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