Anastomosis Button (From the Collection #8)

The Story

Once called the “surgical genius of our generation” by Dr. William Mayo, Dr. John Benjamin Murphy (1857-1916) was a renowned American surgeon who pioneered techniques in general surgery, orthopedics, cardiothoracic surgery, and neurosurgery. He attached his name to a number of tests and instruments, including Murphy’s sign (a diagnostic for cholecystitis), Murphy’s punch (a diagnostic for gallbladder inflammation), Murphy’s drip (administration of fluids by proctoclysis), and Murphy’s button (for anastomosis).

In 1892 Dr. Murphy devised a tool that, in his estimation, was “going to revolutionize intestinal surgery,” and the treatment of cholecystic disease. Developed in an animal laboratory in his backyard (and used on a human only six days after first being tested on a dog!), Murphy’s button was designed to join hollow viscera, specifically the gallbladder to the intestine, without the use of sutures. The spherical device splits in two, the tissues are affixed each to one half with purse-string sutures, and the halves are snapped back together, holding the tissues together to heal. Murphy reported that his first cholecystoenterostomy took only 11 minutes, reducing operating time tenfold.

The anastomosis button was used in many hospitals into the 1930s and is considered the forerunner to stapling.

The Specs

ACCESSION # (Web Link):1962.1.8
Object Name:Murphy’s Round Anastomosis Button
Manufacturer (Country):Unknown (USA)
Date Made:Circa 1915-1930
MESH Code:Anastomosis, Surgical
Gastroenterology — instrumentation

About “From the Collection”

“From the Collection” was a project originally published in 2010 to the Museum of Health Care’s website by former Curator Paul Robertson, with the goal being to highlight some the Museum’s most unique items that might be missed in our collection. Each artifact is presented as a bite-sized story, related information, and a link to it’s fully detailed entry on our free online digital catalogue!

Posts in the “From the Collection” series were originally created with support from Funded by the Ontario Museums and Technology Fund. The support of the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is acknowledged.


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