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O'Dwyer-type intubation set, France, 1882-1900

Diphtheria causes a membrane to grow over tissues in the mouth and, in severe cases, into the lungs. Without intervention, breathing becomes difficult and eventually the patient will suffocate. In 1882, Joseph O’Dwyer (1841-98), an American physician, became the first person to successfully intubate children with diphtheria. O’Dwyer decided to place a tube down the larynx to help the patient breathe and keep the airway open. The tubes became known as O’Dwyer tubes and are made to fit different sizes of larynx. The kit also contains a pair of forceps and a hook to place and remove the tubes, which took skill on the part of the physician. The mouth gag used to keep the mouth open while the tubes were put in place is missing from this apparatus.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: intubation

The insertion of a tube into a body canal or hollow organ, as into the trachea or stomach

Glossary: mouth gag

device for preventing the mouth from being closed which permits the passage of the hand or an easily damaged piece of equipment such as a rubber stomach tube.

Glossary: larynx

An organ in the neck of mammals involved in protection of the trachea (windpipe) and sound production.

Glossary: forceps

A pliers-like medical instrument used to grasp tissue.

Glossary: diphtheria

An acute highly contagious infection, generally affecting the throat but occasionally other mucous membranes and the skin. Diphtheria has been largely eradicated due to world-wide vaccination efforts.

Glossary: intubation set

set of instruments used for intubation - the placement of a tube into an external orafice of the body.