Alternative Name(s): Filoform Bougies, Dilating Sounds

Set of 11 urethral sounds (originally 12 - the smallest is missing) in hinged wooden box. Only one is stamped with the name of the box manufacturer, Medical Supply Association, London.

Urethral sounds are cylindrical instruments for introduction into the urethra or other tubular organ, usually for calibrating or dilating constricted areas. Larger and larger sounds are used to enlarge the area. They also measure the position of urethral blockages. The term 'sound' refers to the sound made when an obstruction is struck. Their uses included the treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases, which can cause constriction to the urethra. Similar boxed sets of urethral sounds are depicted in S. Maw & Sons' Catalogue of Surgical Instruments & Appliances, Aseptic Hospital Furniture and Surgical Dressings, etc, London, 1913 (p.236).

The Medical Supply Association was most active in the 1890s to 1920s, but continued into later decades. Based in London, it had branches in Edirburgh, Glasgow, Sheffield and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The Medical Supply Association (International) Limited was incorporated in 1953.

The sounds were formally part of the collection of Kryall Castle museum. Their provenance is otherwise unknown.

Physical Description

Set of 11 urethral sounds (originally 12 - the smallest is missing) in hinged wooden box. Each sound is a cylindrical metal rod, curved at one end and terminating in a slight bulb, and a disc at the other end imprinted with its size, and some with the manufacturer's name. The sounds are from a range of manufacturers - only one is labelled with the name on the box, Medical Supply Association, London. The sounds are housed in wooden slots, in two groups, with an empty glass vial with glass stopper at centre, which may have originally housed a material to aid the introduction of the sound into the urethra. The box lid is secured with two brass hinges, and a brass hook at each end. The manufacturer's name is stamped at the front of the open box. A broad arrow symbol is stamped at top centre of lid. Spotted discoloration over much of box surface. Some surface rust on sounds.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Medicine & Health, Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information


  • Place & Date Made

    Medical Supply Association, 1910-1930

  • Inscriptions

    Stamped in black at the front of the open box: 'MEDICAL SUPPLY ASSN.' Broad arrow on centre top of box lid. Each sound is imprinted with its size and manufacturer's name. From smallest to largest: '1 / 00 / MSO SUPPLY LONDON / [broad arrow]' ''0 / 2 / ARNOLD & SONS / LONDON / [broad arrow]' '1/2 / 6' '1 / 4 / BAILEY & SON / LONDON / [broad arrow]' '2 / 5' '3 / 6 / C & S [inside oval] / [broad arrow]' '_ _ / _' [no size visible] '4 / 7 / H & G C CO LTD' '6 / 9' '7 / 10' '8 / 11'

  • Classification

    Medicine & health, Surgery, Tools & equipment

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    338 mm (Width), 141 mm (Depth), 36 mm (Height)
    Box measured closed.

  • References

    Information on the use of this object provided by Dr Bevan Stone, curator of the Society for Preservation of the Artifacts of Surgery & Medicine, 2013. Information on the Medical Supply Association from the Science Museum Group web site, [Link 1] accessed 15/7/2013. See also Catalogue No. 55: Instruments and Apparatus Appertaining to Midwifery, Gynaecology, Anaesthetics, Blood Transfusion; Surgery of the Urinary Tract, the Kidney and Liver, the Alimentary Canal, Bones, the Thorax; and Suture of Wounds. Medical Supply Assn, circa 1920s.

  • Keywords

    World War I, 1914-1918, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Sexuality