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Forging Tools to Fit the Hand

Blacksmith at anvil

In 1949, J. Deryl Hart, MD, then Chair of Surgery and future President of Duke University, opened Duke’s Surgical Instrument Shop, which was charged with building “anything to aid [healthcare practitioners] in their work and studies.” Alongside myriad surgical instruments, its products included a well-known “Duke University Inhaler” for administering trichloroethylene anesthesia and a folding operating table. As a medical student, I walked by the original site of the Instrument Shop every day, and as a trained surgeon I’ve appreciated how surgical instruments extend my ability to reach into difficult places, dissect tissues at odd angles, and rejoin tissues after injury.

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