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Lithotomy Set

Lithotomy Set

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This lithotomy set belonged to Caleb Winslow, M.D. (1824-1895), and his son, Randolph Winslow, M.D. (1853-1930) a professor of surgery at the University of Maryland, and one of the founders of the Women's Medical College of Baltimore. The set was manufactured about 1850 by John Rorer and Sons of Philadelphia. It contains: four grooved staffs, two dilators one made by Willms of Baltimore, one sound; four lithotomy forceps; one scoop; one double-ended scoop; one Physicks' Gorget (knife) with two extra blades and one silver tracheotomy tube. Several instruments are missing. A note left in the case, and written on a prescription pad states the lithotomy set had been in the family for several generations. The instruments were donated to the Maryland Chirurgical Society by Mrs. Randolph Winslow.
Dr. Caleb Winslow attended the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania graduating in 1849. It is likely the lithotomy set was purchased by the senior during this period. Prior to the Civil War Dr. Winslow moved to Baltimore. The history of the University of Maryland states he performed ninety-nine lithotomy operations.
Like his father Dr. Randolph Winslow (1852-1937) attended Haverford College. Afterward he entered medical school of the University of Maryland graduating in 1873. His medical education continued in Philadelphia, and later overseas in Berlin, Vienna, and Paris. Dr. Randolph Winslow returned to the University of Maryland to become Professor of Surgery. He was one of the founders of the Women’s Medical College in Baltimore.
The instrument set was made by John Roher of Philadelphia. Roher whose enterprise dates from 1785 to 1887, began his career as a blacksmith, transitioned to a cutler, and later to surgical instrument maker, where he was later joined in business with his sons William and John. His shops were located on Mulberry Street, Arch Street and finally N. 6th. He was considered to be one of the finest instrument makers in Philadelphia if not the United States. He worked with several surgeons to design special instruments. Besides Lithotomy instruments Roher was known for his excellent obstetrical instruments.
Lithotomy is the surgical removal of calculi or stones from the bladder, kidneys, or urinary tract. At the time this surgical set was manufactured there were two operations for the removing stones. 1. Making an incision between the anus and the urethra, and extracting the calculi with a scoop and forceps. 2. Using a lithotrite which did not require an incision. The lithotrite is passed through the urethra, and the stone is crushed with the instrument. Catheters were later inserted into the urethra to wash out pieces of calculi which were crushed by the lithotrite.
The physiology of why stones develop was not well understood. Noted surgeon Dr. Samuel D. Gross (1805-1884) in volume II of System of Surgery notes various theories of why stone develop, including climate, geographical location, race, economic background, certain foods, and cider.
The instruments in this set were designed to find and extract stones in different ways. Sounds, long metal rods slightly curved at one end were inserted into the urethra were used to detect the presence of stones. Grooved metal staffs warmed and oiled were inserted into the urethra and guided lithotomy knives into the cavity.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Surgical Set
surgical set
lithotomy set
date made
about 1850
John Rorer and Sons
place made
United States: Maryland, Baltimore
Physical Description
wood, mahogany (overall material)
metal, steel (overall material)
cloth, velvet (overall material)
wood, ebony (overall material)
average spatial: 6 cm x 42 cm x 23.8 cm; 2 3/8 in x 16 9/16 in x 9 3/8 in
overall: 2 1/2 in x 16 1/2 in x 9 3/4 in; 6.35 cm x 41.91 cm x 24.765 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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