Post mortem set, Paris, France, 1820-1860
The steel instrument set contains all the equipment needed to carry out a post mortem dissection. The set contains dissecting scissors, a large hammer, saws and knives, a so-called brain knife, three scalpels and three bistouries, which are long surgical knives. Most gruesome of all are the large and sturdy rib shears, for cutting open the ribcage, and the double bladed, curved spine saw. The set was made by the French surgical instrument maker Charrière. Post mortem or autopsy only came into common practice in the early 1800s. The purpose of post mortem was to find the cause of death and establish whether the physician’s diagnosis when the patient was alive was correct. It also helped physicians to learn more about the internal symptoms and signs of disease. Today, post mortems are commonly associated with forensic science.
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Glossary: post mortem set
Glossary: post mortem
A medical procedure that consists of an examination to discover the cause and manner of a death.
Glossary: pathological anatomy
The branch of anatomy concerned with the structural changes of the body that accompany disease. Pathological anatomy became central to medical research in the 1800s.