The electric spectacles

Exciting news from the world of medical technology was reported in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in 1850.  The following announcement was a late example of the mania for galvanic (i.e., electrical) medicine which began in the eighteenth century. For many decades, after the investigation of electrical phenomena began in earnest, electric current was believed to be a panacea … Read more

Medicinal pancakes

It being Shrove Tuesday, I thought I’d write a short post about pancakes. Not how to make them, or the reasons for eating them today, but their little-known nineteenth-century medical uses. Yes, really.

Oddly, the pancake enjoyed a short-lived vogue in the world of gynaecology and obstetrics.  Why it should have been particularly associated with female reproductive disorders is anybody’s … Read more

Penis in a bottle

foreign body in the urethraA regular feature of any hospital accident and emergency department is the patient who turns up in an embarrassing and self-inflicted predicament. When questioned about the nature of the injury and how it came about, they come up with an utterly implausible explanation. One example: “I was standing on a chair in the nude, trying to close the window, and … Read more

More astonishing than true

Astonishing caseSome stories are just too good to be true.  This astonishing tale appeared in the Medical and Surgical Reporter in 1867, repeating an unlikely-sounding yarn first reported in a Canadian newspaper, and involving a Dr Hamilton from Hamilton City in Ontario:

Some weeks since the advice of Dr. Hamilton was procured in the case of a young lad who was Read more

The woman whose skin turned blue

Case of argyriaAn alarming case was revealed to a meeting of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London in November 1815, and reported in the Transactions of the society early the following year. It provides a good example of the fact that new medicines often carry dramatically unexpected side-effects. A Dr Albers of Bremen reported the following: 

The skin of a woman, Read more