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[trih-fahyn, -feen] /trɪˈfaɪn, -ˈfin/ Surgery
a small circular saw with a center pin mounted on a strong hollow metal shaft to which is attached a transverse handle: used in surgery to remove circular disks of bone from the skull.
verb (used with object), trephined, trephining.
to operate upon with a trephine.
Origin of trephine
1620-30; spelling variant of trefine, orig. trafine, blend of trapan (variant of trepan1) and Latin phrase trēs fīnēs three ends (the inventor's explanation)
Related forms
[tref-uh-ney-shuh n] /ˌtrɛf əˈneɪ ʃən/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for trephining
Historical Examples
  • Throughout the three campaigns of the Sleswick-Holstein war, there was only one case of trephining which gave a favorable result.

  • I have seen results of trephining by American surgeons which could not be bettered anywhere.

    Glaucoma Various
  • Accordingly a trephining was done, and these adhesions, real or supposed, were broken up.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • An abscess involving the turbinated bones is similar to the collection of pus in the sinuses and must be relieved by trephining.

    Special Report on Diseases of the Horse United States Department of Agriculture
  • In former days trephining was a much more frequent operation than it is now, and apparently more successful.

  • After trephining the symptom improved, but got worse again; when seen by us was having one daily.

  • trephining is an operation which can be performed by any surgeon who is used to ophthalmic manipulations, and who has good sight.

    Glaucoma Various
  • This being the case one cannot truthfully say that trephining alone can take the place of the old Graefe iridectomy.

    Glaucoma Various
  • trephining directly over the area of the abscess (rarely necessary).

British Dictionary definitions for trephining


a surgical sawlike instrument for removing circular sections of bone, esp from the skull
(transitive) to remove a circular section of bone from (esp the skull)
Also called trepan
Derived Forms
trephination (ˌtrɛfɪˈneɪʃən) noun
Word Origin
C17: from French tréphine, from obsolete English trefinetrepan1, allegedly from Latin trēs fīnēs literally: three ends; influenced also by English trepanetrepan1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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trephining in Medicine

trephine tre·phine (trĭ-fīn')
A cylindrical or crown saw for the removal of a disk of bone, especially from the skull, or removal of other firm tissue such as that of the cornea. v. tre·phined, tre·phin·ing, tre·phines
To operate on with a trephine.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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