Kilner's needle holder. (THE NAME BEHIND THE INSTRUMENT).
Abstract: Anyone who has assisted, single-handedly, at a long plastic surgery operation, which will inevitably involve dozens of skin sutures, will have blessed the name of Thomas Pomfret Kilner (1890-1964) and his needle holder. This ingenious instrument combines the dual functions of a stitch-cutting scissors with a needle holder, so that the surgeon can put in a stitch, tie it and cut it without having, on each occasion, to put down the needle holder and pick up a pair of scissors, or to get his assistant to snip it for him.

KEY WORDS Harold Delf Gillies, Needle holder, Needle scissors, Plastic surgery, Thomas Pomfret Kilner
Article Type: Report
Subject: Surgeons (Evaluation)
Surgeons (Works)
Author: Ellis, Harold
Pub Date: 07/01/2007
Publication: Name: Journal of Perioperative Practice Publisher: Association for Perioperative Practice Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2007 Association for Perioperative Practice ISSN: 1750-4589
Issue: Date: July, 2007 Source Volume: 17 Source Issue: 7
Organization: Organization: University of Oxford
Persons: Named Person: Kilner, Thomas Pomfret; Kilner, Thomas Pomfret
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom
Accession Number: 192486021
Full Text: Introduction

Plastic surgery as a specialty was created during the First World War. A young New Zealander in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), Harold Delf Gillies (1882-1960), an ENT surgeon was asked to set up a special unit at the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot and later to establish a major hospital for this work at Queen Mary's Hospital at Sidcup. Starting from scratch, he invented techniques such as the tube pedicle flap, usually taken from the chest wall or the neck, to replace huge facial or nasal loss of tissue. Bone grafts, usually taken from the iliac crest, were used to replace shattered jaws.

Certainly the most distinguished of Gillies' young trainees was Thomas Pomfret Kilner. Born in 1890, he trained in Medicine at the University of Manchester, and qualified in 1912, with distinctions in Surgery and Pathology. After serving as demonstrator in anatomy and senior house surgeon at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Kilner joined the RAMC, served as a front line surgeon in a Casualty Clearing Station on the Western Front then, in 1918 as a surgical specialist at No. 4 General Hospital, finally joining Gillies at Sidcup.

Post-war work

After the war, plastic surgery as a specialty practically vanished. Indeed, in 1921 there were only two full-time plastic surgeons in the country: Gillies and Kilner. Kilner worked not only in London but as far afield as Manchester and Birmingham as consultant surgeon. By 1939, before the outbreak of World War II, there were just three London teaching hospitals who could boast a plastic surgeon on their staff.

In 1944, Kilner was appointed the first professor of plastic surgery at Oxford. A position he held with great distinction until 1957. I encountered him there when I was a house surgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary in 1948. I remember assisting him stitch up the face of a pretty girl after a major injury - of course, he used his needle holder!

Kilner was a small, plump cheerful man, with tireless energy. A tremendous enthusiast and an inspired teacher. He loved fishing, gardening and keeping bees.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.