Historical Instruments for the Modern Sinus Surgeon

Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2019 Mar;33(2):220-225. doi: 10.1177/1945892418822879. Epub 2019 Jan 23.


Background: Despite a proliferation of technological advances in sinonasal surgery, "cold steel" instruments still comprise the core of the sinus surgeon's tools of the trade. Many of these implements retain eponyms that recall the legacies of prominent surgeons of the past.

Objective: This review aims to familiarize the reader with the lives of 10 men who designed and popularized some of the most recognizable sinus instruments, without which the practice of rhinologic surgery would be unrecognizable.

Results: Ten individuals whose inventions are still used to this day and retain their names: Hartmann, Killian, Freer, Blakesley, Weil, Frazier, Grünwald, Hajek, Takahashi, and Cottle.

Conclusion: Review of the history of these instruments helps demonstrate how sinus surgery has evolved to where it is today. The men described in this review transformed the practice of rhinologic surgery with their ingenuity and perseverance.

Keywords: Blakesley; Cottle; Freer; Killian; Takahashi; history of medicine; history of surgery; septoplasty; sinus surgery; surgical instruments.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Nasal Surgical Procedures / history
  • Nasal Surgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Otolaryngology / history*
  • Paranasal Sinuses / surgery*
  • Surgical Instruments / history*

Personal name as subject

  • Gustav Killian
  • Arthur Hartmann
  • Theodore Seward Blakesley
  • Ludwig Grünwald
  • Kenzo Takahashi
  • Otto Tiger Freer
  • Moriz Weil
  • Markus Hajek
  • Charles H Frazier
  • Maurice Cottle