Removed without the least difficulty

Sir William Fergusson was a leading figure in Victorian medicine. A great and widely respected surgeon, he began his career in Edinburgh in the 1820s before moving to London, and the professorship of surgery at King’s College, in 1840. In very little time he established himself as a pillar of the capital’s medical community, and one of its most successful … Read more

A triumph of surgery

In June 1898, British newspapers reported an exciting medical story under the headline ‘Triumph in Surgery’. Their source was a case history published in that week’s edition of The Lancet. The author, Dr William Brown of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, was not a well-known figure; but for a few days, at least, he enjoyed a reputation as a pioneering surgeon.… Read more

Nobody nose

Leonardo Fioravanti was a celebrated – and later infamous – Italian doctor of the sixteenth century. You’ll find little information about him online, which is a shame, because his was a fascinating career. Like many Renaissance thinkers he did not restrict his investigations to one field but ranged widely across the arts and sciences, from philosophy to astrology, biology to … Read more

Pricked it all over with a fine needle

I recently came across the online archives of the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Journal, the in-house publication of the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Society. The society was founded in Bristol around 1874 and is still very much in existence – as is its journal, albeit in electronic form. In the very first volume of the BMCJ, published in 1883, can … Read more

Conversation with a ghost

Spooky goings-on were reported in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal in an article published in 1826. The author was Dr Caleb Crowther, a physician from Wakefield and superintendent of the city’s celebrated West Riding Pauper-Lunatic Asylum:

case of tetanus

In December 1821, I was sent for to visit Mary Irvin, aged about 24, labouring under a severe attack of hysteria, said Read more

Hit in the face with a cow’s stomach

In October 1852 a Bristol surgeon called Augustin Prichard gave a talk at the Bath and Bristol branch of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association entitled ‘Extraneous substances in the eye’. Dr Prichard was an eminent local practitioner with a particular interest in ophthalmic surgery: his MD thesis, based on research he conducted in Berlin, was concerned with the … Read more

Off the scale

It is not often that an author in a major medical journal thinks it necessary to state that they are not mad. But in 1891 Dr W.J. Galbraith, Professor of Surgery at Omaha Medical College, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported a case so extraordinary that he thought it necessary to offer a disclaimer by … Read more