In 1889 a surgeon from the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin, Kendal Franks, wrote a notable case report for the British Medical Journal. His subject was renal calculus, otherwise known as kidney stones. During an operation in October that year he had removed a stone which was quite unlike anything he’d seen before.
The specimen is composed chiefly of … Read more
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 a disaster for all … Read more
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 might reasonably ask – with … Read more
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 the regimental medical officer assumed … Read more
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 together around 70 of the … Read more
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