Intubation kit, ca. 1898

Courtesy National Museum of American History

Diphtheria is characterized by a membrane that grows in the throat causing the infected child to struggle for breath. To prevent suffocation, doctors performed tracheotomies and intubation, surgical methods for restoring a breathing passage.

This intubation kit includes a set of seven tubes, sized for children up to age twelve, along with the tools used for inserting and extracting the tubes from the throat.

Photo of opened intubation kit.



Row of seven hard rubber intubation tubes arranged by length.Cross section of mouth and neck anatomy, with an instrument reaching through the mouth to reach an intubation tube in the throat.

Intubation tubes

(Left) Hard rubber intubation tubes arranged by length. Courtesy National Museum of American History
(Right) Cross section of mouth and neck anatomy. Courtesy National Library of Medicine

This kit includes seven hard rubber intubation tubes that vary in their lengths and widths in order to accommodate the windpipe of children up to age 12. The tube has an elliptical, enlarged head and bulging middle, designed to keep it in place in the throat. The illustration shows the placement of the inserted tube in the windpipe.



Metal insertion tool with tube holding attachment and intubation tube assembled for insertion in patient.A hand holding a long tool with the thumb placed on a notch on its handle with elongated neck that curves down on its end where a tube is attached.

Metal insertion

(Left) Metal insertion tool. Courtesy National Museum of American History
(Right) A hand holding an insertion tool. Courtesy National Library of Medicine

The metal insertion tool has a tube holding attachment (bent end) where the black intubation tube is fitted. The long neck of the tool is long enough to reach into the patient’s mouth and insert the tube in the patient’s windpipe.



 Metal mouth gag tool used to hold the mouth open during intubation procedure.Front view of a seated woman holding a child in her lap; a man stands behind her holding the child’s head; a tool holds the child’s mouth open.

Mouth gag

(Left) “Proper position of operator and attendants” from Intubation of the Larynx, Frank E. Waxman, 1888. Courtesy National Museum of American History
(Right)Metal mouth gag. Courtesy National Library of Medicine

The mouth gag tool keeps the patient’s mouth open for inserting or extracting the intubation tube. The illustration shows how a young patient is held securely by a person, behind whom another individual stands and holds the patient’s mouth open using the gag tool.



An L-shaped metal extracting tool with a long handle with a lever, which curves at ninety degree and ends with a pincer tip. Fig. 13 tubes-lef shows a long tool with a handle, a lever in the neck area and curved section with a pincer end.

Extraction

(Top ) L-shaped metal extracting tool. Courtesy National Museum of American History
(Bottom) O’Dwyer’s improved extractor. Courtesy National Library of Medicine

The extraction tool has a pincer end that grabs the intubation tube from the throat before pulling it out of the patient. The illustration shows how the lever by the handle operates the pincer for latching onto the tube.