History of Medicine


An Open Access Journal

From the history of the use of vaginal pessary in obstetric and gynaecological practice

Vladimir K. Chelpanov1
1 FSBEI HE “A.I. Yevdokimov Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry”
20 Delegatskaya St., building 1, Moscow 127473, Russia
In this article, the main stages of the evolution of the medical pessary and its role in obstetric and gynaecological practice are studied. The author pays considerable attention to the description and comparison of the forms, quality and purpose of pessaries in different periods, as well as the materials used for their manufacture.

The history of the use of pessaries dates back thousands of years and contains references to many forms and sources of their manufacturing, from Hippocrates and Soranus of Ephesus to the present day. Pessaries have always had special importance in obstetric and gynaecological practice since they have long been a universal means of helping women to maintain the uterus in uterine prolapse and prevent unwanted pregnancy. The conducted historiographic study allowed us to divide the evolution of the medical pessary into three stages: from ancient time to the 18th century, from the beginning of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, and from the second half of the 20th century to the present day. Obstetric pessaries have come a long way in terms of development – from sponge pessaries, oval stones, wooden and rubber plugs to highly elastic silicone rings, and over the entire period of their existence there have been more than 200 types that differed in purpose, form and mechanism of action, as well as the qualitative characteristics of materials used for their manufacturing. In the modern line of pessaries, the most popular are the pessaries of Dr. Arabin and the Juno brand. It is indicated that nowadays the pessary in obstetric and gynaecological practice is an indispensable and alternative solution for the treatment of uterine and vaginal prolapse, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence in women, and the prevention of preterm labour.

Keywords: history of medicine, obstetric pessary, Hodge pessary, isthmic-cervical insufficiency, prolapse of pelvic organs, uterine circle, prevention of preterm birth


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