The accidental hysterectomy

Forcible removal of the uterusIn 1840 one Dr Drane, a physician from Louisville in Kentucky, wrote a short communication to the Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery. The editor was astonished, commenting that the case was “unique in the annals of obstetric medicine”. It’s certainly, ahem, special:

A woman residing in Oldham county, in this State, was attended by a midwife in her Read more

The boy who choked on his gold

I came across this interesting story in the Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Surgery at Paris, a collection of cases published in English in 1750. Until I looked into it more thoroughly I didn’t realise that this is not just a curiosity but a genuinely pioneering operation. It was documented in a treatise published in 1620 by the … Read more

The case of the drunken Dutchman’s guts

On August 28th 1641 the 21-year-old English diarist John Evelyn visited the great university of Leiden in the Netherlands. He was unimpressed, declaring it ‘nothing extraordinary’, but one building took his fancy:

Among all the rarities of this place, I was much pleased with a sight of their anatomy-school, theater, and repository adjoining, which is well furnished with natural Read more

The ‘first’ heart transplant

the art of medicine james hardyDo you know who performed the world’s first heart transplant ? The surgeon usually credited with the feat is the South African Christiaan Barnard, who on December 3rd 1967 gave Louis Washkansky, a 54-year-old grocer, a new heart. The fiftieth anniversary of that celebrated operation falls later this year – but Barnard was not, in fact, the first person to … Read more

An extraordinary surgical operation

extraordinary surgical operationLast 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 committee of the San Read more

Like finding a needle in a pharynx

needle in pharynxIn 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 it passed and fell Read more