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Spencer Wells-type artery forceps, London, England, 1880-1904

Spencer Wells artery forceps have become the standard forceps used in abdominal surgery following their introduction in 1879. They are used during surgery to compress the artery, seal small blood vessels or keep the artery out of the way. The innovation of English surgeon Thomas Spencer Wells (1818-97) was in eliminating the gap between the handles of the forceps in order to prevent arteries and tissues being entangled. The jaws of the forceps were also shortened and were given strong ridged teeth to improve compression and grip. It was found that compression could seal small blood vessels permanently. Spencer Wells forceps could be applied to larger vessels which could then be stitched later rather than being done immediately.

Object number:

A614011

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Glossary:

Glossary: artery forceps

forceps are a two-bladed instrument with a handle for compressing or grasping tissues in surgical operations, and for handling sterile dressings, etc. Artery forceps are for specifically grasping and compressing an artery.