An extraordinary surgical operation

Last week I came across an article which took my breath away. It was published in 1858, in an American journal, the Medical and Surgical Reporter, and it describes an operation of such audacity and skill that I can’t believe it isn’t better known. This is how it was reported: At the request of a … Continue reading An extraordinary surgical operation

Like finding a needle in a pharynx

In November 1828 several English-language journals picked up a case which had appeared in the Revue Medicale, a French medical journal, the previous month. It begins promisingly: A man, aged twenty-five years, was irritating his nostril with a needle… As you do. …when by some accident he suffered it to enter the nostril through which … Continue reading Like finding a needle in a pharynx

A large portion of chin

One night in May 1832 the duty medics at St Thomas’s Hospital in London suddenly had a particularly difficult case to deal with. It was subsequently reported in the London Medical and Surgical Journal: Joseph B. aged 24, a Frenchman, of sanguine temperament, whilst partially inebriated, on the evening of May, in an hotel in Gracechurch Street, … Continue reading A large portion of chin

A chainsaw to the spine

In the early nineteenth century surgery was a primitive affair, generally limited to a few commonly performed operations. Most people know about agonising amputations, or the (possibly even more agonising) operations for bladder stones and mastectomy; others in the surgeon’s repertoire included basic procedures to remove cataracts or to release pressure in the skull. But … Continue reading A chainsaw to the spine

Better late than never

Today’s medical journals pride themselves on their topicality, publishing the latest research as soon as it’s available – but those news values did not apply in 1845, when the Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal agreed to publish a case report almost half a century old. It was sent to them by a retired surgeon, William … Continue reading Better late than never

She cut off her nose with a carving knife

The image above shows the Jardin Royal (Royal Garden) in Paris – misleadingly named, since although it included a botanical garden it was primarily an educational institution. In addition to botany, it offered classes in chemistry, anatomy and surgery. One member of its faculty was the surgeon Pierre Dionis (c.1643-1718), who taught there for many … Continue reading She cut off her nose with a carving knife