Tools of the Angel Sawbones

The tourniquet is used to apply direct pressure to the femoral artery supplying blood to the leg to be amputated (or brachial artery to an arm). Its use prevents the patient from bleeding to death.

Amputation Tourniquet

A scalpel is used first to slice around the skin of the leg in one or two strokes, followed by a larger scalpel to cut through the muscles. Sometimes a third is used to separate the skin from the muscle before cutting so that the skin may be more easily stretched over the stump.

The bone saws are used for the final step of the amputation. The larger saw is used for legs and arms and the small one for fingers. The nippers are used to clip off any edges that splinter.

One of the Angel Sawbones’ “lucky” patients from the Civil War era.