He swallowed a serpent

A curious phenomenon common to medical history and folklore is that of the bosom serpent – stories of snakes, frogs, lizards and other animals living inside the human stomach or intestines. According to the physician and medical historian Jan Bondeson, “no fewer than 68 case reports of live reptiles or amphibians inside the gastrointestinal tract” … Continue reading He swallowed a serpent

The fiery finger

Can the human body spontaneously catch fire?  For many years people believed that it could. Spontaneous human combustion was a topic that fascinated medics and the general public for many years. In the early nineteenth century it was widely believed to be a genuine phenomenon, caused by some quirk of human physiology (I’ve previously written … Continue reading The fiery finger

A remarkable dislocation

Charles White was an eminent Manchester surgeon of the eighteenth century. As a young man he studied anatomy in London with William Hunter, and became friendly with William’s brother John, the outstanding medical scientist of the age. Returning to Manchester, he set up in private practice and co-founded the city’s infirmary in 1752. He also … Continue reading A remarkable dislocation

Divine’s intervention

If you enjoy these stories of medical mishaps and surgical drama, why not buy my book? The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is out now, published by Transworld. The American edition will be published on November 20th. In 1899 the Atlanta surgeon Dr Kinsman Divine dropped dead while performing an operation. The procedure was nearly complete, and … Continue reading Divine’s intervention