In his textbook The Principles of Surgery (1801) the Scottish surgeon John Bell emphasised the importance of speed when operating to remove bladder stones, condemning
those long and murderous operations, where the surgeon labours for an hour in extracting the stone, to the inevitable destruction of the patient.
That quotation appears as a footnote underneath the dramatic headline of an … Read more
This story has a delightful combination of youthful misadventure and surgical ingenuity. OK, so ‘delightful’ might be a bit of a stretch, but I suspect you’ve never read anything quite like it. The case was first published in a French medical journal, the Journal des Connaissances Médico-chirurgicales, in 1847.
The headline translates as ‘Memoir and observations on a new … Read more
I haven’t had much time for blogging recently, since I’ve been working hard on a book which will be published later this year. It’s a true-crime thriller about a murder case in nineteenth-century Dublin, which has entailed weeks spent sifting through Irish newspaper archives. I recently stumbled across one medical story in the course of that research which was too … Read more
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
In 1829 a surgeon from Wolverhampton, William Lewis, contributed this unusual surgical tale to The Lancet:
John Roden, a boy about 11 years of age, (of the Deanery-row,) of a spare habit and pale complexion, received a shot wound on the 5th of November last, while passing a door from behind which a pistol was discharged, loaded with a … Read more
Committee reports aren’t exactly famed for their entertainment value. But while leafing through the 1850 volume of the Transactions of the American Medical Association I found one that contained an unexpected gem:
Buried deep within this lengthy document is a section about aneurysms – a disorder of the blood vessels in which a localised weakness causes the vessel to bulge … Read more
An 1868 issue of a French journal, the Bulletin général de thérapeutique médicale et chirurgical, contains this case report contributed by Paul Pamard, chief of surgery at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Avignon. Pamard was unusual among surgeons in combining his medical practice with a successful political career – and at the time of this case he was serving … Read more
Earlier today I was interviewed on TalkRadio about a man I believe to have been Britain’s first heart surgeon – an exciting discovery I made a few months ago.
Listen to my conversation with Paul Ross here:
When I wrote my history of cardiac surgery, The Matter of the Heart, I was struck by the fact that while it … Read more
Caesarean section is now the most commonly performed major operation in many parts of the world. A study published in The Lancet a few months ago estimated that around 30 million caesareans take place worldwide every year; in the UK over a quarter of babies are now born by caesarean, some 175,000 per year.
References to the operation go back … Read more
You may be familiar with this dramatic photo, which has been doing the rounds recently on social media (mainly thanks to Lindsey Fitzharris – @drlindseyfitz on Twitter – if you’re not following her, you should be)
It shows Leonid Ivanovich Rogozov, a Soviet doctor who in 1961, while stranded at an Antarctic research station, succeeded in taking out his own … Read more