“How did it happen?” is a question every emergency physician will ask hundreds if not thousands of times during their career. The answer is usually mundane: “I fell off a ladder”; “I was playing rugby”; “I’d had a bit too much to drink.” But just occasionally the patient is mysteriously coy about the reasons for their admission to hospital, suddenly … Read more
The Royal College of Physicians in London, which celebrates its 500th anniversary later this year, is currently staging a small exhibition devoted to one of its most celebrated former Fellows. William Harvey was a prominent member of the College in the 17th century, when he was also personal physician to Charles I. In 1628 he published De Motu Cordis, … Read more
You’ve heard of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut; but what about a drill (or rather two drills) to crack a cherry stone?
That is exactly what took place at the Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Paris in 1833. The surgeon responsible was the great Guillaume Dupuytren, and his unusual case was reported in the Bulletin General de Therapeutique a … Read more
In June 1828 the Lancet published a pair of short case histories that contemporary readers must have found rather confusing. Printed on the same page, they both dealt with cases in which a strangulated hernia had been treated with a tobacco enema (yes, really: an infusion of tobacco administered via the anus). In the first case the treatment was a … Read more
The patient, Maria N— aged twenty-three years, had experienced for a long time much irritation about the kidneys and urinary apparatus, for which different palliative remedies were administered, but with little relief. The patient was lost sight of for … Read more
At a meeting of the Pathological Society of London in 1855, members were shown a specimen that might have been better suited to a geological society rather than one devoted to the study of disease. The object in question, which looked like a lump of brick, had been supplied by Edward Lacy, a surgeon from Poole. Mr Lacy was … Read more