Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Freeman Transorbital Leucotome

Freeman Transorbital Leucotome

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)
Doctors used these instruments to perform the lobotomy procedure on patients diagnosed with particular psychiatric conditions. The procedure was introduced in 1935 and popularized in the United States by Walter J. Freeman in the 1940s. The doctor inserted the instrument into the frontal lobe of the brain to destroy its connection with other regions.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Leucotome, transorbital
leucotome, transorbital
date made
ca 1950
date(s) of previous ownership
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
Physical Description
steel, stainless (instruments material)
leatherette (case material)
black (case color)
part: case (closed): 8 1/4 in x 3 3/4 in x 3/4 in; 20.955 cm x 9.525 cm x 1.905 cm
overall, case, closed: 3/4 in x 8 1/4 in x 3 3/4 in; 1.905 cm x 20.955 cm x 9.525 cm
part: case (open): 13 7/16 in x 10 in x 1/4 in; 34.13125 cm x 25.4 cm x.635 cm
part: instruments (each): 7 3/4 in x 1 1/2 in x 1/4 in; 19.685 cm x 3.81 cm x.635 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Henry A. Ator
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission on our collection pages is temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon!

If you have a question or require a personal response, please visit our FAQ or contact page.