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The Seton & Cauteries - Some of Guillimeau's Eye Instruments

There's nothing quite like the crude instruments of the Golden Age of Piracy! (Something for which you should be most grateful.) This page features an assortment of instruments used for eye operations and maladies as explained in the English translation of Jacques Guillimeau's The French Chirurgerie, printed in London in 1683.

While the book is not paginated, this information is from the section "The Thesaurarye, or Storehouse of Chyrurgereye," on the 24th page of that section. The spelling and grammar have been preserved, although I have inserted some material in square brackets to make it more meaningful to modern audiences. I have inserted lettering into the diagrams because the original letters were often not easily read. I have also moved the original images around so that they work well with the display area on this web page, although I have not altered the actual images in any way other than adding the red lettering that appears on the instruments, as mentioned.

A seton in use (Ophthalmodouleia Das
ist Augendienst by Georg Bartisch)
Just a bit of an introduction regarding the concept of the seton. A seton was an object placed inside of an open wound to cause irritation and draw forth "bad humors." The irritation caused by a foreign object was cause infection and the formation of pus. This gave the bad humors contained in the body a vehicle to exit.

"The Declaratione of the Characters which are contaynede in the Table of those Instrumentes which are proper, and conveniente, to the executione of all manualle operations which in the eyes may be by anye meanes usede.

Althoughe that I in this Chyrurgerye have not discribede the manualle opertió which may be vsede in the infirmityes of the Eyes: yet notvvithstandinge I vvoulde not, nether indeede coulde omitted in this storehouse and treasurye of all Chyrurgicalle Instrumentes, the portrayctures, and figures of those Instrumentes, vvhich are necessarye & commodiouse unto such an effecte of deliberate, & set purpose omittinge the operations of the Eyes, becaus at large I have discribede, & amplely set forth, everye severalle operation, in my Treatize of the Infrimityes, and diseases of the Eyes, vvhich I committede to the Presse in the yeare M.D.Lxxxv. to the vvhich I committee the gentle Reader, there to behould the practice, & severalle vse of all operations of the Eyes.

A, Demonstrateth a trianglede Cauterye, to apply therwith a Seton, vvhich both prickethe, & cuttethe; the vvhich Cautereye is applyede cleane through the perforate tonge [C], or tenacle, vvervvith the skinne of the Necke is apprehendede, for the Seton to passé throughe.

I I, the Needle for the Seton, or transforatione.

B, An other Needle for the same intente, and purpose, vvervvith vve transforate the skinne without the tentacles, or tonges.

C,C, The tonges for the Seton, vvhich ar pearcede, to thruste there throughe the Seton.

D,D, Tvvo holes, vvhich is notede, & vvhich is made because the hott Cauterye, shoulde not chaunce to touché the skinne of the Necke.

E, The Needle to remove the Cataractes, and pearles of the Eyes: And is in Latine callede Acus ocularis.

F, The same Needle beinge vvholye takene out of her case.

G, The handle of the Needle.

H, the Needle beinge vvholye takene out of her case.

I, The Coverture of the Needle.




T, A little Cautery for the Eyeliddes vvhen the little hayres thereof turne invvardes.

V, The Ægilopicke Cauterye, to cauterize the bone, of the greate corner of the Eye.

X, The Plate to lay one the Eye least vve should chaunce to hurte the same,

Y, The hole vvhich is in the Plate, to thrust the Cauterye there through, vvhich perforatione must be layede right on the Fistle.

A, A little canulle, or piep for an other Cauterye.

We must here note, that this pipe, or canulle, must have a little ringlet, vvhere by vve might hould faste the same, for it soe be vvith a buttone vve houlde it, vve might then chaunce to burne our fingers, becaus the cauterye internallye passinge through the same, it shoulde not soe completlye be effectede, as it ought to be.

b, The Cauterye

c. The handle.

d, The holes to truste therein a little pegge, leaste vve should penetrate to deepe thervvitch, & may therebye be somevvhat retaynede.

e, The little irone pinne, or pegge."

(Guillemeau, p. 24)