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Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Nelaton Probe

French physician and surgeon Auuste Nelaton invented a porcelain-tipped probe for locating bullets inside a wound. Union surgeon William Williams Keen described using the tool:
 
"We had the ordinary and dangerous probe. This may be described as a slender flexible silver finger to detect the course, and, if possible, the presence of a bullet, but in our ignorance of bacteriology, not being sterilized, it was also a means of carrying infection deep into the wound.
 
"In 1862 Nelaton of Paris invented his celebrated probe. This wa a rather stout but flexible wire tipped with a bulb of unglazed porcelain and therefore rough. When the probe met with any hard body, such as a bone or a lead bullet (the only kind of bullet then used), by rotating the probe, if the hard body were of lead, the rough porcelain would show a dark spot of lead, but if of bone so such spot would be produced."

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