An extraordinary quantity of worms

In 1801 a contingent of 20,000 soldiers commanded by General Charles Leclerc, the  brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte, set sail for the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Their mission was to recapture the former French colony of Saint-Domingue, now under the control of the former slave Toussaint Louverture.  Known as the Saint-Domingue expedition, the two-year campaign was … Continue reading An extraordinary quantity of worms

Revealed: the cure for hiccups

A striking report* was published in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in 1845 by Dr George Dexter, a physician from New York: Some time since, a singular case of hiccough was placed under my treatment. Its origin evidently was from long-continued masturbation. Dr Dexter appears remarkably confident in this assertion. On what grounds, you … Continue reading Revealed: the cure for hiccups

More than common danger

Sir Astley Cooper was the best known, and best paid, surgeon in early nineteenth-century London. He was a great innovator in the field of vascular surgery, devising new methods of treatment for aneurysms and other conditions of the blood vessels. His expertise was both deep and broad: he was an authority on hernias, limb fractures … Continue reading More than common danger

The trumpeter and the walking stick

In is not unheard of for a soldier to be killed as the result of a swordfight. But it is not often that the circumstances are quite as unusual as those of this case, published in The Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science in 1851 – with a patient who looked so little injured that … Continue reading The trumpeter and the walking stick

Cosmetic(s) surgery

This unexpected discovery was reported in a French journal, the Répertoire Generale d’Anatomie, in 1827. The patient was treated by Guillaume Dupuytren, the leading French surgeon of the day – although this was far from being one of his most celebrated cases: Ann G—, forty-five years old, presented herself at a consultation of the Hotel-Dieu, … Continue reading Cosmetic(s) surgery

Asleep while she gave birth

Things have been rather quiet on this blog in recent weeks, so apologies if you’ve been missing your regular fix of wince-inducing medical history. I’ve been busy working on a book which will be published in a few months’ time.  The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth (and other curiosities from the history of medicine) brings … Continue reading Asleep while she gave birth