Pince-Ciseaux for Peripheral Iridectomy

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A pair of cased pince-ciseaux for performing peripheral iridectomies with one hand, made by Ferris and Co.

An ingenious mechanism on the dorsal aspect allows blue steel pincers to grasp and raise the iris before cutting. These have been more commonly known as skin grafting scissors, and whilst they were certainly used to good effect for that purpose, they were originally designed to be an ophthalmologist’s instrument. With thanks to George Sturrock for the research behind this fascinating story.

Reverdin pioneered skin grafting in Switzerland but published his pinch graft technique while working in Paris, in 1869. He probably used a pair of ordinary scissors and either a needle or forceps to lift the skin when harvesting graft material (see picture). These pince-ciseaux have  been referred to as Reverdin scissors, but there does not seem to be any evidence that he used them.

Two years earlier in his 1867 catalogue, Parisian instrument maker Mathieu illustrated a pair of pince-ciseaux for performing peripheral iridectomies with one hand. Their invention has been attributed to M. Adolphe Meyer. Prof Macleod, Glasgow, cited the Mathieu catalogue in his article on skin grafting, (BMJ 1st April 1871), although he also describes their use for paring fistulous openings. Ferguson, a surgeon at Barts, claimed to have used scissor-forceps in March 1871 for pinch grafts (Lancet 3rd June 1871) and makes no reference to Reverdin. Finally Bryant, at Guys, wrote an article (Guys Hospital Reports 1872) describing a pair of scissor-forceps used for skin grafting which were made for him by Krohne (London) and refers to Macleod’s article.



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