In 1873 Thomas Lauder Brunton was asked to give a lecture to the Abernethian Society of St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Lauder Brunton would later become famous as the pioneer of amyl nitrite, the first drug shown to be effective in treating angina pain. But in 1873 he was a little-known 29-year-old, only recently appointed to the hospital as … Read more
In 1849 a Spanish journal, La crónica de los hospitales, published a case supposed to have occurred some forty years earlier in the Mexican port of Veracruz – at the time, a Spanish colony. It was recorded in private notes made in 1809 by Dr Faustino Rodriguez, a distinguished practitioner of the city, but for some reason had never … Read more
One of the most popular stories on this blog is that of the nineteenth-century Frenchman who cut his own penis in two for sexual gratification. If you type the keywords ‘man cut penis two’ into pretty much any search engine, it’s the top hit – on the entire internet. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is.
That … 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
There is a long and often honourable history of self-experimentation in medicine. Medical pioneers have often been unwilling or unable to test a new therapy on living patients, since the potential harm to a volunteer was just too great to justify. But what if the researcher is convinced that the treatment they have spent years developing really will prove beneficial? … Read more
Unless you’re a marine biologist, the chances are that you’ve never used the word ‘lithophagus’. You may have eaten one, however: Lithophaga is a genus of mussels, some of whose species are edible, often served in a garlic, white wine and parsley sauce with plenty of crusty bread. Delicious.
But I digress.
‘Lithophagus’ comes from two Greek words: λίθος, … Read more
The Northern Journal of Medicine was a short-lived periodical which appeared for only two years before being acquired by a more successful competitor. But it had some illustrious contributors: published in Edinburgh, it was able to include papers by some of the most eminent medical academics in Europe. The very first edition, which appeared in May 1844, included this article … Read more
Albert Vander Veer was a distinguished New York surgeon of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A Civil War veteran, he was a notable pioneer in an age when operating inside the abdomen was almost a mission into terra incognita. An expert on the surgery of the uterus, he also performed daring operations on the gall bladder, intestines and … Read more
On February 23rd, 1872, the Philadelphia Post published a breathtakingly crass news story:
“Thrilling”? I wonder how many of the witnesses of this ghastly event … Read more
The ‘foreign correspondence’ pages of one 1861 issue of the Medical Times contain an eclectic selection of stories. The first concerns the ‘sucking apparatus of infants’ (i.e., babies’ mouths). But the following case was the one that caught my eye – headlined Foreign Body in the Transverse Colon:
A very curious case of this affection occurred a short time … Read more