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Frère Côme-type lithotome, 1745-1830

A lithotome is used to cut the bladder in order to remove stones (hard masses in the bladder). Frère Côme’s lithotome (1703-1781) is also known as a lithotome caché. Caché translates from French as “hidden”, meaning that the lithotome had a hidden blade. The blade was introduced into the bladder and then released using the spring handle. The surgeon controlled how far the blade moved – any errors could lead to internal bleeding and damage. This example is made from metal and has a bone handle.

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Glossary: lithotome

instrument used for cutting the bladder in operations for removal of stones (calculous concretions); from Greek: lithos (stone) and thomos (cut)

Glossary: stone

A hard solid made of undissolved minerals and found in the kidneys or bladder.