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
In 1843 the Provincial Medical Journal published a landmark paper by Dr W.H. Ranking from Suffolk. It was a ‘landmark’ in that it was the first full-length publication in English to discuss a new disease that was soon to become the scourge of the male population: spermatorrhoea. Or, in plain English, involuntary ejaculation.
The person who first brought this worrying … Read more
In December 1886 the Cincinnati Enquirer published an exclusive from its New York correspondent. He had uncovered an amazing story at one of the city’s hospitals – the death of its longest-standing patient. She’d been an inmate there for three decades, but that wasn’t even the most interesting part of the tale:
When Nellie Steele went to the Bellevue Hospital … Read more
The name of Dr Richard Patrick Satterley is more or less unknown today, but in the early years of the nineteenth century he was regarded as one of the most talented young physicians in London. He died prematurely in 1815, before he had left much of a mark on his profession. But a few months before his untimely death he … Read more
In 1832 a surgeon serving aboard a British Navy vessel in the Mediterranean, David Burnes, sent an unusual case history to The Lancet. Five years later he wrote to the journal again, offering an update to this ‘singular case’. Here’s the complete story:
Robert Sims, aged 23, was entered on the sick list of HMS Belvidera, about the middle … Read more
A short news item published in 1843 by the Gazette Médicale de Paris contains the sort of case that would give a hypochondriac sleepless nights. It was submitted by Jean Guyon, an eminent military surgeon who spent much of his career studying tropical diseases, in particular yellow fever and cholera. Another of his interests was the leech – not … Read more
According to an old journalistic adage, if a newspaper headline contains a question the correct answer is always ‘no’. For instance, ‘Could x offer a cure for cancer?’, to which the answer is always ‘no’, whether x is ‘green tea’, ‘mushrooms’ or ‘snake oil’.
In 1886 a physician from Glasgow, Dr George Beatson, wrote to the British Medical Journal with a rather unusual tale. One of his patients had written to him to tell him about an alarming incident that had occurred early one morning:
“A rather strange thing happened to myself about a week ago. For a month or so I was troubled … Read more
In 1813 the editor of The Medical and Physical Journal, Samuel Fothergill, accepted for publication a paper by John Spence, a Scottish doctor who had moved to Virginia three decades earlier. Spence studied at the University of Edinburgh in the 1780s, a period when its medical school was the finest in the world. He was prevented from graduating by … Read more
At a meeting of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society in 1852, London physicians were treated to the following tale, as later reported in the Medical Times:
A tradesman’s wife, aged 41 at the time of her death, who had borne six children—the last in 1844—a tall, well-formed woman, who had suffered from the following symptoms :—In December, 1842, … Read more