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Thigh tourniquet, Roman, 199 BCE-500 CE

A tourniquet is used to control bleeding, especially during amputations. It is a device that is still in use today. This example was used on the thigh and is made from bronze. Many of the straps have engraved patterns and originally the bronze would have been coated with leather to make the patient as comfortable as possible. The tourniquet came from the private collection of Dr Noel Hamonic (active 1850-1928), and was sold by Hamonic’s sons in two parts to Henry Wellcome, the first in June 1928 for £4,400 and the second in July 1928 for £803. The collection consisted mostly of surgical instruments and pharmacy ware.

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    Glossary: amputation

    Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.

    Glossary: tourniquet

    An apparatus designed for the compression of the vessels of the limb. A loosely applied tourniquet can reduce venous blood flow out of a limb. A tightly applied tourniquet can lessen arterial blood flow into it.