A bristle probang used in a mental health hospital in Victoria Australia circa 1900. This instrument was designed to remove swallowed foreign bodies. The patient would be asked to swallow the tip and the flexible stem would be passed along the length of the oesophagus below the foreign body. The thumb ring and finger hold would then be pushed together causing flattening of the bristle. The instrument would then be removed, hopefully pulling out the foreign body with it. It was sometimes used to initiate regurgitation.

Physical Description

A long handled brush with bristles in at top with cotton binding crowned by tiny round sponge. Flexible, hollow shaft is made from stiff cloth. Its cotton binding at the top and base of the brush are thickly lacquered. A black, hard rubber spiralled rod goes up the middle of the shaft protruding 5cm at lower end. When this is pulled, the bottom of the brush is pulled up so ballooning the bristles out. Lower end of shaft is trimmed with an open-ended ivory cap.


Example of general medical equipment used in mental health hospitals in Victoria Australia

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