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Destructive OB Instruments

OB Forceps


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"Dangerous and inefficient as many of these instruments were, they fulfilled a purpose when all else had failed, the baby was dead, and the mother's condition was critical.  The time when any serious consideration would be given to Caesarian section in the presence of a dead baby was a long way off.  Indeed Cesarean section was so dangerous that it was rarely considered when the baby was still alive.  In the latter half of the nineteenth century considerable thought and effort was devoted to other instruments for extraction."  - Bryan Montague Hubbard, M.D.  Ph D. FRCOG. Emeritus Professor OB/ Gyn. University of Wales College of Medicine. Author: The Obstetrician's Armamentarium. Norman Publishing, 2002......

Last Resort Instruments
A midwife calls the man midwife only when all her efforts have been futile.  Often times the only reason for calling the man midwife at childbirth was because the baby is already dead and needs to be extracted by performing destructive surgical procedures to save the mother.  It seems  to be a cruel procedure, however it was done as an act of compassion to save the life of the mother.  Typically the man midwife was not called until 3 to 4 days or longer after the onset of labor.  Here are some of the gruesome instruments available to a man midwife at the time.

Tire tete full

Tire tete tip

Tire-Tete (Extractor) de Mauriceau
Circa 1675
A heavy weight device pierced into the decapitated or intact fetal head for extraction.  Unplated steel, 49 cm in length.



       Tire-Tete De Levret
    Circa 1740's
A huge tire-tete, used to extract a beheaded baby.  It has four blades to open out and circle the cut off fetal head. Ebony handle with ivory base. 53 cm in length.
The pliable blades open up to more than 15 cm in diameter.

            Levret's Bascule Extractor
           Circa 1740's
                                            A see saw tipped extractor placed into the perforated fetal skull for extraction. Unplated steel, 36 cm in length.    

Circa: Late 1800

The rigid fillet was used for difficult deliveries in late 19th Century.  It was used for traction for intractable labors.  The loop was made of whalebone with the ends fixed in an ebony handle.  The loop served as a noose to grab the chin, forehead, groin, leg, or shoulder of the baby.  It was used as an alternative to the vectis or forceps. Its use faded through time.  26 x 7.5 cm.


Frightful instruments were used to open the head of the infant giving way for other destructive tools like the cranioclast or the crochet to extract the fetus as a whole or piecemeal. This frightful operation was done many times to save the life of the mother.

                                                                                                                                          Various kinds of perforators:
Simpson's Spring Loaded Perforator
Unplated steel.
Naegele's  Perforator
Unplated steel
Blot's Arrow Perforator
Plated steel with ebony handle.
Smellie's Perforator
Unplated steel.
Naegele's perforator
Naegele's Perforator

Articulated snapcatch handle lock perforator.  Marked "Cizek & Hajsl."
Unplated steel.

Comb perforator hook
Combination Perforator and Hook

Unplated steel.   28 1/2 cm (11 1/4")
in length. Unmarked.

Simson perforator
Simpson perforator 2
Simpson's Perforator
Unplated steel. 35 cm (13 3/4") in length.  Signed: Maw London

Thomas perforator 1

Thomas blade
Thomas' Perforator
                                                                        Unplated steel, ebony handle with scissor and cone shaped tip.  Fig 3801, Tiemann

Vicarelli Perforator
Exceedingly rare destructive ob instrument. It measures 27 cm. Plated steel.

A perforator or craniotomy instrument with sharp scissor like edge.  The opening can be adjusted with a screw on the handle.  It has a checkered ebony handle. Similar to illustration on Bennion's Antique Medical Instruments, 1979, Chap 6, pg 128 Fig 18.

ARSimpson basil
ARSimpson basilyst 2
ARSimpson basil 3
                                                                                                           A.R. Simpson Improved Basilyst
Circa 1884
The basilyst was used for perforating the vault, and if required, it was advanced to perforate the base of the skull.  It has a double thread and split to the point.  Unplated steel with ebony handle. 41 cm  (15 3/4")  in length. Ref.  Fig 19.36 p252.  Hubbard's The Obstetricians's Armamentarium.

Thomas scoop dest
Thomas' Scoop
Circa 1870

It was primarily used for the enucleation of myomas or the removal of cancerous growths in the uterus.  It was also documented being used as a last resort for the piecemeal removal of an undelivered fetus.  Signed W.F. Ford.

Dubois Embryotomy Decapitating Scissors

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cranio forceps 1a
Craniotomy Forceps

From top to bottom: Thomas Craniotomy forceps;  Meig's, straight, angular, and curved craniotomy forceps.

Trepine Peforators

An instrument to bore a hole on the fetal skull as a preliminary process in collapsing the
fetal head with a powerful destructive forceps
Trueheart's Trephine Perforator
Assembled, separated, and the tip.
Assembled instrument on left. The outer sheath removed to show the componenents bottom left.  The closed up view of the trephine tip, bottom right.  This destructive instrument was used to perforate the head of the fetus.  Fig 3811, Tiemann. Illustrated in Bryan Hibbard, M.D., the Obstetrician's Armamentatrium. Noruman Publishing, 2000, page 224  fig 18.14


Braun's Trephine Perforator
Circa late 1800s
This was used to bore hole on the fetal skull as a prelimminary process in collapsing the skull with a cranioclast.  The instrument had a pelvic curve allowing the crown to be placed over the head.  Turning the handle while applying pressure rotated the cutting edge of the crown, thereby trephining the skull. The collapsed  head would allow subsequent extraction of the fetus. Plated steel, 44 cm long.

Trepine Perforator

with metal handle

Leisnisch Kiewisch Trepine
with Ebony handle.

Luer Trephine Perforator

Corkscrew Perforator

                                                                                                                                                   Zweifel's Trachelorhektor
Circa 1910
This is a rare German destructive OB instrument invented by Zweifel.  The Trachelorhektor was illustrated in the Medizinisches Warenhaus catalogue in Berlin published 1910.  They call it "Two Armed Decapitation Hook".

Guyon's Trephine Perforator
Circa 1867
The pointed stylet is screwed into the sphenoid and acts as a guide for the trephine. Metal and horn handles.  Marked Collins & Co.  43 cm (16 1/2 " ) in length.  Ref. Fig 19.23 pg 245 Hibbard's Obstetricians Armamentarium.

Blunt Hook- In difficult cases, extraction of the head or the trunk utilizes the blunt hook inserted around the neck or under the shoulder respectively. They were also used to alter the position of the fetus as well as to hasten the delivery of breech. The blunt hook were often used in combination with crochet.
Crochet-A steel hook with a sharp pointed end.  After the initial breaking of the skull with a perforator, the crochet was inserted into the cranium and grab hold the base of the skull for extraction.
Both crochet and blunt hook were essential for the practicing obstetrician in the late 1600 to late 1800.
The pointed end of the crochet were used to hook into the head, eye socket, shoulder bone, or any part accessible

Blunt Hook
Unplated steel with ebony handle.
Hook & Crochet
Unplated steel.  Ebony midshaft handle.
1886 decollator
ob decollator
Braun's  Decollator Hook
Double Blunt Hooks
Large and small unplated steel hooks with ebony handle on mid-shaft.

Hook and Crochet
Hook & Crochet

Unplated steel

Hook & Perforator with cover

perforator with cover off
Hook & Perforator

Hook with covered perforator.

                                                                                             Paired Hooks: Black and brown wood handles, Crochet and Blunt hooks.


          Sets of Hooks, Crochet, and  Vectis with detachable ebony handle.

4 destructive
4 Sets of Destructive Obstetric Instruments:
From top to bottom:
enestrated vectis with 45 degree handle. Right angle decapitating hook,
Double-toothed crochet, and a sharp hook.  Unplated steel with ebony handles.

  Wide-edged Crochet
Unplated steel with curved ebony handle.
 Point-edged Crochet
Unplated steel with squared ebony handle.

Ramsbothan's decapitator
Ramsbothan's Decapitator

A destructive Obstetrical  hook with ebony handle.
36 cm in length.

Decapitation Hook
According to Cuzzi-Tibone.
Plated steel. 33.5 cm in length

                                                                                                             Guarded Blunt Hook & Crochet
Assembled and separated.  Upper handle and blade is reversible.  Crochet were used not only for extraction but also for piecemeal removal of fetal parts like the abdomen and trunk of the fetus. Marked: Tiemann. Fig 3811, Tiemann.

Bedford Guarded Crochet

Davis Guarded Crochet
Plated steel blades with German lock and ebony handles.

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Smellie's double crochet 1
Smellie's double crochet 2
Smellie's double crochet 3
Smellie's Double Crochet
 Circa 1740s
They were applied to the outside of the fetal head as a single blade or using both blades as in the manner of an obstetrical forceps. Unplated steel with English lock and wooden handle.  30 cm/ 12 inches in length.  Illustrated on Bryan Hibbard, M.D. The Obstetrician's Armamentarium; Norman Publishing, 2000, page 228, fig 18.23 

Levret's Double Crochet
Circa. Early 1800's
A very rare destructive forceps with notched ebony handles. The blades could be used singly or in combination on the outer side of the fetal head.  Illustrated on Joseph B. De Lee, 1st Edition, 1913, Principles and Practice of Obstetrics, Chapter LXXII, Mutilating operations on the child.  pg 1006 fig 893 d.  Unplated steel, 32 cm in length.

Braxton Hick's Cephalotribe
Circa 1850s
A large and heavy dreadful tool used for crushing the bones of the fetal skull and face. All metal plated steel with English lock.  44 x  20 cm dimensions.

Simpson's Cephalotribe
Simpson's Cephalotribe
Circa 1850s

A humongous destructive obstetrical instrument.  48 cm (19 inches) in length. Unplated steel.

Baudelocque Cephalotribe.
Circa 1820's
A stunning 56 cm long and heavy cephalotribe. Similar instrument featured in Hibbard pg 239. 
The crank handle is made of ivory.  It is marked "SIRHENDRY A PARIS". 

     Blots's Cephalotribe
Powerful and heavy destructive forceps. It is similar to the Simpson's cephalotribe except that the grooved blades are spiked. Unplated steel.

    Martin's Fenestrated Cephalotribe.
Large & heavy unplated steel to crush the fetal skull.

Savigni cephalotribe sep
Savigni cephalotribe English lock
Savigni Cephalotribe
Circa:19th Century
Unplated steel with ebony handle and English lock.
37 cm (14 1/2 ")  in length.

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Cranioclast on fetal skull
A cranioclast is a powerful forceps.  The blades are toothed, fenestrated or grooved.  One of the blades passes within the skull of the fetus, while the other is introduced externally to the cranium.  Two blades articulate by means of a fixed screw point.  Some cranioclasts have separate blades which are joined by a lock similar to an obstetrical forceps.

    Boer's Cranioclast
with spiked grooved blades.

Thomas's Cranioclast
Unplated steel
Mieg's Craniotomy Forceps
Unplated steel with ebony handle
Fig. 3817, Tiemann.
Scissor Type Cranioclast
Unplated steel
Unplated steel. One handle, hooked, the other scissor type handle.
Godson's Type Cranioclast
Nickel plated steel.
Conquet's Cranioclast
Fixed screw point with ebony handles.
Unplated steel.
Holmes' Cranioclast
Fixed screw point with ebony handles.
Unplated steel.
Davis' Cranioclast with English Lock
Circa 1840s
 A cranioclast with two separate blades articulated by an English lock. One of the blades passes within the skull, and being furnished with teeth, perforates the bone, while the other
is introduced externally to the skull, and contains grooves into which the teeth of the first blade are received.  It has a locating pin on the inside of the handles. When properly fixed, the extremities of the handles are to be bound firmly by a tie, and steady traction applied to extract the dead fetus.

Cranioclast jaw sm
Circa 1860s
Hooked handle with toothed blade. 34 cm in length. Unplated steel.

Simpson's Cranioclast
Conceived by Sir James Y. Simpson to replace the cephalotribe.  A fenestrated blade positioned on the outer surface of the head, while the smaller solid blade was inserted into the previously perforated skull.  The crushed cranial vault was contained within the scalp. It has a ribbed ebony handles with Siebold's lock which allows the instrument to be used in two positions.  Marked S. Hawson Thompson, London. Circa 1870's.

Kehrer's Cranioclast.
(A Variation of the Braun Cranioclast)

cranioclast 2
Braun's Cranioclast

A heavier version of the Simpson's cranioclast

L J Hubert's Trasforator

Hubert's tip
Hubert's handle
L. J. Hubert's  Transforator
The olive-shaped end is screwed into the base of the skull, and the hinged blade is passed over the head.  47 x 10 cm in dimension.  Ref: Fig 19.34 p252. Hibbard's  The Obstetrician's Armamentarium.

Blond-Heidler decap
Blond-Heidler 2
Blond- Heidler Decapitation Saw

A very rare destructive instrument used to decapitate the fetus in diffiicult labor.  The wire saw is passed behind the fetal head using the thimble.  The maternal parts are protected from the saw by a rubber sheath.  Handles are connected to both ends of the saw.  The blade is pulled back and forth the fetal neck. Signed Lewis Bros London.

Tarnier's Basiotribe
Circa 1880's
A huge and heavy formidable instrument of destruction.  A combination of a craniotomy forceps and a cranioclast.  Used for perforating and crushing the fetal head. All metal plated steel.  Fig 3813, Tiemann.  44 x 20 cm in dimensions

Aub 1

auv 2

                                                                                                                  Auvard's Basiotribe
A combinanation of cranioclast and cephalotribe. The center blade is for perforation and screwing into the foramen magnum.  The crushing outer blades are then applied.  There is a winged screw compressor and a lock.  Plated steel.   43 x 16 cm  (17 x 7 ") in dimension.

Accouchement Force!
If the cervix failed to dilate for a vaginal delivery, or if the delivery seemed urgent,  the accoucheurs in the past stretched, torn, or lacerated the cervix by force to accomplish rapid delivery. The procedure was called "accouchement force," delivery by force.  Several methods were used and many instruments were deviced to accomplish it.

Hand cerv dil

Duhrssen's 1a

Duhrssen's 1b
Manual Accouchement Force
     Manual dilation of the cervix.  Few obstetricians continue to practice this method in modern times.
Duhrssen's Incision
      Deep incisions were made through several portions of the cervical canal to accomplish rapid delivery of the infant.  Often called the vaginal Cesarean Section

Bossi dilator Bossi Uterine Dilator
  For failure to progress, the cervix was  forcibly dilated. A powerful screw at the handle would affect the handles to separate the cervix. This dilators were popular towards the end of the 19th century, but fell into disrepute because of severe lacerations it produced to the uterus.  Signed: Guiseppe Opezzo.
    Ref :Bryan Hibbard, M.D.  The Obstetrician's Armamentarium.  Norman Publishing, 2000.  Page 218, fig 17.9

Preiss Cervical Dilator
Circa 1890s
Five bladed cervical dilator, similar to Luigi Bossi dilators.  Plated steel, 27 cm in length, 9 cm widest diameter of the blade. 
Weiss Cervical Dilator

     Plated brass with four awesome blades. A powerful screw at the handle produced separation of the blades placed in the cervix.  35 cm long.  Circa 1890's.

Four Bladed Dilator
Similar to Luigi Bossi insrument (1881).  Four branched dilator.  This dilators was popular for a decade, but because of the cervical and uterine tears it produced fell into disrepute.
39 cm in length. Plated brass.

Uterdilfingergrip Uterdiltip Finger Grip Uterine Dilator
Uterdilsciss Uterdilscisstip Sims'  Tri-bladed Uterine Dilator

Pressure applied to the tow bladed handle causes the three blades of this uterine dilator to expand evenly.
UterdilSims UrerdilSimstip Scissor Handle Tri-bladed Uterine Dilator

Scissor handle grip with three bladed uterine dilator.
Goodell's Cervical Dilators
Circa 1870s
ebony handles on left.  Made by Codman and Shurtleff of Bostorn.
Metal handles on right.
Wathen Cervical Dilator

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