In 1809 the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal printed this striking report of an agricultural accident from a surgeon in Ripon:
August 30th 1808, ten o’clock AM, I went to Norton Mills, about four miles from hence, to see John Brown, aged twelve years, who had received a wound in the abdomen by a pair of wool shears.
It … Read more
Being shot in the head with a revolver is not exactly a minor injury. But in 1875 the Medical Record published this unusual story about a patient who managed to walk home, and talk to his family, shortly after receiving a bullet in his brain:
On Friday, the 21th of March, early in the afternoon, Mr. M. Ballerstein, a gentleman … Read more
In 1863 a surgeon from the small German town of Gräfenhainichen, Herr Geissler, wrote to one of the Berlin journals to share an extraordinary tale he had encountered in his practice. The publication to which he submitted the case Monatsschrift für Geburtskunde und Frauenkrankheiten, was devoted to gynaecology and obstetrics and indeed this story is about childbirth – though … Read more
In 1823 a prominent London physician, John Ayrton Paris, published a book in collaboration with a barrister called J. S. Fonblanque. Medical Jurisprudence was the first English-language textbook on the subject, and went through many editions. It was a valuable resource whenever the worlds of law and medicine overlapped – criminal trials, inquests, or claims of medical negligence.
It also … Read more
Sir Astley Cooper was the best known, and best paid, surgeon in early nineteenth-century London. He was a great innovator in the field of vascular surgery, devising new methods of treatment for aneurysms and other conditions of the blood vessels. His expertise was both deep and broad: he was an authority on hernias, limb fractures and amputations, and many other … Read more
This remarkable story was told in a French publication, the Journal Complémentaire du Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales, in 1830. The author of the report was a German doctor, Dr Ehrlich, who had apparently treated the young man in question some forty years earlier:
A young man of sixteen, of a strong constitution, attempted to carry on his back a … Read more
In 1873 the Chicago Medical Journal published this article by a Dr Stewart from Muscatine, a small Iowa town on the banks of the Mississippi that would later become famous as the world-leading manufacturer of pearl buttons.
The article’s matter-of-fact headline scarcely does justice of the drama to come:
Anthony B., a lad aged 17, while standing beside a … Read more
In a week that’s seen snow across much of Britain and record low temperatures in parts of the US, this story from the Annals of Medicine for 1799 seems particularly appropriate:
A remarkable and well-authenticated case, of a woman surviving nearly eight days buried in the snow, without food, has occurred this spring, near Impington, in Cambridgeshire.
It’s no exaggeration … Read more
On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo the Duke of Wellington was making a final inspection of his troops when he spotted one of the medical officers smoking a cigar. The Duke confronted him.
“Well! Hennen, is that the fortieth cigar today?”
“No, my lord,” replied the surgeon, “it is only the thirty-eighth.”
The chain-smoking surgeon was John … Read more
Today’s story first appeared in the Observationes, a collection of case reports by the German surgeon Wilhelm Fabry (1560-1634). Fabry, also known as Fabricius Hildanus, is sometimes referred to as the ‘father of German surgery’ and was a methodical and scientific operator whose careful descriptions of his work exerted a powerful influence on later generations of medics.
It isn’t … Read more