Sklar Research, Reports & Articles

The Evolution of the Surgical Forceps

Posted by Marielba Cancel on Nov 16, 2016 9:40:05 AM

Forceps were originally designed to help deliver a baby in an era where many women died from childbirth. The origin of the word comes from Latin, “forca,” which means to grab or grip an object. Forceps illustrated in ancient documents would have served as destructive instruments rather than aiding ones. There was little or no concern for the baby, and many were stillborn before any form of intervention was considered. During the middle ages, mechanical assistance was provided when delivery was obstructed. Instruments used by the Barber Surgeon or ladles from the kitchen were used to help a woman give birth. At that time, midwives were in charge of managing a hard labor, however, there are few written accounts of the process. Midwifery was almost a taboo, and mainly controlled by the church. The practice was cloaked in superstition. There is an example from a “Dame Trot” who practiced in Salermo during the 11th century: “When there is a difficult labour with a dead child, place the patient in a sheet held at the corners by four strong men, with her head somewhat elevated. Have them shake the sheet vigorously by pulling on the opposite corners, and with God’s will she will give birth.”1 

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Topics: Sklar, research, healthcare, forceps