The Museum of Medicine and Health : Leucotome

The Museum of Medicine and Health

<p style='text-align: justify;'>A leucotome is a neurosurgical instrument used for cutting nerve connections in the frontal lobes of the brain. Frontal leucotomy operations were relatively common during the 1940s and 1950s to treat various psychiatric illnesses. This instrument was designed by Dr James McGregor, a psychiatrist at Warlingham Park Hospital, Surrey in the 1940s. Neurosurgeon Dr John Crumbie used it to perform 20 leucotomies. It has a rotating, blunt blade, which was inserted into the frontal lobe of the brain. Unfortunately, the blade tended to catch small blood vessels causing cerebral haemorrhage and the deaths of two patients.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The operation was increasingly controversial, and following the introduction of chlorpromazine in 1954, the number of leucotomies rapidly declined.</p>

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