The Chirurgeon’s Box: The Falciform Amputation Knife

Many keen observers have noted the curved knife pictured at the top of this website and have enquired about this oddly shaped tool. This, dear reader, is a falciform amputation knife. It was the popular tool of choice by 18th-century surgeons who preferred to cut through the skin and muscle before amputating the bone. To do this, the surgeon would take the falciform knife, hook it around the injured or infected limb, and cut in a circle to separate the flesh and muscle from the bone. After this had been completed, the surgeon would then use a surgical saw to cut off the remaining appendage. A good surgeon could do all this in under 2 minutes. Unfortunately, very few people survived such trauma.

By the 19th century, this technique had fallen from fashion as surgeons opted to use a straight-edged knife which would allow a flap of skin to remain after the limb had been removed.  That skin would then be used to cover the stump, providing protection to what would otherwise have been an open wound.

This particular example was made in Germany and can be viewed at the London Science Museum.

One comment on “The Chirurgeon’s Box: The Falciform Amputation Knife

  1. […] After 2.5 years of blogging, I’m excited to unveil a brand new look for The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, complete with a new logo! Each of the symbols in the logo represent a story told on this site: A History of the Barber Pole; Syphilis: A Love Story; The Anatomy of a Broken Heart and The Falciform Amputation Knife. […]

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