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Tube of sterile catgut ligature, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1890-1920

Catgut has a misleading name as it is actually a tough cord made from the intestines of a number of mammals, but not cats. Catgut ligatures were for external and internal use, for example to sew up arteries and other blood vessels during surgery. If applied internally, the ligatures were absorbed by the body once their work was done. This example was made by J Gardner and Son, surgical instrument makers based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: suture

The closing of a wound or incision with thread to help the healing process.

Glossary: sterilisation

To make an object free of live bacteria or other micro-organisms. Usually achieved by heat or chemical means.

Glossary: ligature

A thread or string for tying the blood vessels, particularly the arteries, to prevent bleeding. The word ‘ligature’ can also refer to the action or result of binding or tying, e.g. the ligature of an artery.