Tracheotomy set, English, 1870-1901.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A complete set of metal and ivory instruments in a leather case, made by S Maw, Son and Thompson of London. The instruments consist of scalpels and needles, a retractor, a bougie and two artificial airways. A tracheotomy is a surgical procedure where an incision is made into the trachea (windpipe) and a tube is inserted to enable the patient to breathe. It is normally carried out when the airway above the trachea is damaged or blocked, making unasisted breathing imposible.