hasten the progress
of prolonged and difficult labor, the midwives of the earliest times
felt the desire of being able to hold the head of the child between
hands. However, the human hands are too thick and large.
and slimmer, the obstetrical forceps were used, which are in reality
else than a pair of iron hands.
Secret of the Obstetrical
In 1813 by a
obstetrical instuments were uncovered at the estate of Woodham Mortimer
Hall, near Malden, in Essex, which was owned by Dr Chamberlen (third
until 1715. From the fashion of these instruments may be traced
development of the Chamberlen's forceps. The obstetrical forceps was
on the late 1500 A.D. to the beginning of the 1600 by a member of the
family. The forceps was kept a family secret for four
Little was known of the forceps up to the second quarter of the 18th
No method other
(insertion of the operators hand inside the uterus and grab one or both
feet of the baby and pull the infant out), was available
to assist the delivery of a living child. So many babies were
or maimed and countless mothers perished from exhaustion, hemorrhage
infection before the advent of the obstetrical forceps. The
continue to save babies and mothers up to the present time. It
be one of the most important inventions in medicine.
The Progress of the Chamberlen Forceps
Double blade connected
together with a
riveted joint, and scissor like handles.
handles in which
the joint is formed by a loose pivot on one blade, and a hole in the
to receive it.
Both blades had a hole at the joint through which is passed a string to
connect the blades. The string is tied around the joint to make
Chamberlen forceps was a
and have the the cephalic curve only. It is approximately 28 cm
inches) long. Levret of France in 1747 and Smellie of England in
1751 independently of one another added the pelvic curve to
curve of the
Designed to accomodate the
maternal pelvic curve.
The cephalic curve of
Formed to embrace the fetal head.
of the most advanced of the Chamberlen forceps. A perfectly cast
from the third pair of the original Chamberlen forceps held at
the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and is one of a
limited edition of 250.
There are several
system where the
forceps lock the two blades. Illustrated
below are the major
locks to permit
ready articulation and hold the blades together.
Introduced in 1752
Consists of a socket upon each
which fits the shank of the other half of instrument. The notches in
stem fit together to lock the instrument.
A revolving thumb lock that is
inserted into a
slot, then turned to secure the blades into position.
A modification of the
A pivot is screwed into the shank of the left branch, while the right
an opening which can be adjusted to it, the screw being tightened after
The shank of the left branch
bearing a pivot with
a broad, flat head, while the right is provided with a notch which
to the pivot.
precursor of the obstetrical
forceps: Roonhuysen Lever
the first lever in obstetrics in the late 17th Century. It is
called the vectis or the extractor. The lever consisted of a flat
piece of iron, bent into a slight curve at both ends, and wrapped it
a soft leather so as to be gentle with the fetal and maternal
The instrument was used to displace a face presentation or dislodge an
impacted fetal head from the pelvis. Unplated steel, 25 x 2.5 cm
A single blade to extract a living
It is used as a lever or a tractor or an artificial right hand. It is
also called the lever or extractor
four fingers of the left hand act as antagonist. The use of the
vectis is illustrated.
The vectis is
Unplated steel with ebony handle. 30 cm (11 3/4") in dimensions.
Kinds of Vectis
with different joints
||Non hinged vectis
Short and Long Straight Forceps
the Chamberlen forceps, both pairs of forceps
have the cephalic curve only, but no pelvic curve. The short
forceps have smooth ebony handles, English lock unplated steel
blades. The long forceps is the Denman's forceps. It has
ribbed ebony handles with notched end, unplated steel blades with
The Levret's Forceps Type III
1747, Andre Levret of France applied the first pelvic curve on
obstetrical forceps. He also introduced the French lock to hold
blades together. The fetal side of the blades are grooved. Unplated
with hooked handles.
Introduced by English
Surgeon William Smellie in 1752. It contained the most advanced
lock, the English lock. Smellie together with Andre Levret added
the pelvic curve to the blades of the forceps. Unplated steel with
handle. The notches on the handle are to be bound together by a
to hold the blades together. See Bennion, pg 119, No 7, Ch
Forceps with Mechanical Tractors (Late Model)
L. Hamond constructed a more
complicated mechanical tractor than his earlier model used with his
retroceps. The two crutches (missing) pressed in the genitocrural
fold and a long screw with a cranked handle.
See pg 155 Fig. 11.14 The
Obstetricians Armamentarium, Brian Hibbard, Norman Publishing, 2000.
It is a
with a pelvic curve and an English lock. The right hand blade has
a hinge between the handle and blade, by which it is easily
while the patient lies on her left side. It has a distinctive
curve to both fenestrated blades. The
value of the hinge was unknown. It may just be the craze of the
Unplated steel with ebony handles.
straight forceps without
the pelvic curve.
It has broad blades, wide parting shanks. Designed by David Orme, M.D.
of Edinburgh, and William Lowder, M.D. of Southhampton. 28 cm (10 3/4")
Das p220 Fig 244.
and Fenestrated Blade Forceps.
the male spoon, and female fenestrated interlocking blades. Unplated
steel with ebony handles.
and heavy forceps with
handles. Designed by father and son: Antoine and Paul
They modified the Levret's forceps. 48 1/2 cm ( 19 ") Hibbard p64.
Introduced in 1850
long forceps. On one
handle, a sharp
point with olive screw cap. 48 1/2 cm
Hibbard pg 64
the shanks, detachable
of handles to expose sharp points. All unplated steel measuring
cm ( 14 1/2"). Das p421 Fig 511-2
Hopkin's OB forceps
on handles Dr Hopkins impd forceps
on one handle, Millikin 301 Strand London on the other. On one of the
shanks, marked: Univ. College, Liverpool
Handled Naegele's OB forceps
Checkered ivory handles with
upturned knobs at the end. Unplated steel blades marked: J. GRAY &
steel, hooked handles and
Fetal side of blades not grooved. 48 1/2 cm (19") in length.
Johann Busch introduced
the finger rest.
Ebony handle with finger rest for traction. 36 cm ( 14 ")
p73, fig 5.23
byDr. Hugh L. Hodge of
It has an ovoid blades, parallel shanks, increased pelvic curve, and a
Siebold's lock. Unplated steel. 1987 Wilbur, M.Ds,, Antique Med.
Only 4 cm
(2 1/2 ") long handles,
lined with a
very thick and convex layer of checkered ebony; no palm rest and no
rest, and no pelvic curve. Unplated steel, 24 cm (9
Often called "retroceps'
forceps, meaning behind the head. The
blades were placed behind the head and it articulates on a common
transverse handle. The right shank revolves. It serves more
like a lever and never had a practical usage.
1873. A short folding
forceps with smooth ebony handles. Fig 534,535 p447 Das 1929
To avoid compression to the
fetal head, the Elliot forceps provides a sliding pivot on the handles to
keep it at a desired distance apart. Ebony handle, uplated steel.
forceps with German
handle, unplated steel. 27 cm ( 10 1/2")
steel, ebony handle, and
ends. Marked Shepard and Dudley. 25 cm (9 3/4") Tiemann
p537 Fig 3741
on the handle guides the
the precise direction of the pelvic axis. Unplated steel blades,
horn covered handles, double connecting rods attached to the side of
blades. The traction device has an ebony handle. Bar marked
Brevete SDGD. Fig 3779, Tiemann.
steel with finely ribbed
handles. It has hooked ends and Siebold's lock.
Mathieu A. Paris. Length: 47 cm. 1987 Keith Wilbur, Antique Medical Instr. p104.
handle with ring finger
rest and German
lock. Unplated steel. Marked Shepard and Dudley. 30 cm. (15
1/4") Tiemann p540 Fig 3762
or Parallel Forceps
of two parallel
forceps held together
by pin and socket cross bar. The idea is to apply traction to the
fetal head without compression..All metal unplated steel. 42 x 18
Steifenhofer Parallel Forceps
steel parallel forceps similar to
Boerma. The rib handles are interconnected with a round joint at
the base; they have small protrusions on the ends for grip; hallmarked
with a crowned caduceus. 10 5/8" long, 1907 forceps
described in Das p683.
rotational forceps introduced in 1925 by Lyman Barton of New York . The
blades join the shanks at an angle. One of the blades is hinged. This
ob forceps has a
sliding lock with a cross
bar handle axis-traction attachment. The handle have a finger rest.
A rotational forceps with
a sliding lock. Stainless steel
rotational ob forceps, supposedly
upgrade to the Kielland's forceps. It has a sliding
shanks with a lock. The handles have a finger rest and a spacer
that can be adjusted with a winged knot. The blades have 4 round
fenestrations on each side.
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