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
Maximilian Joseph von Chelius was a prominent 19th-century German surgeon who had a significant influence on medics right across Europe. His lectures were frequently quoted in the London and Edinburgh journals, and his textbook Handbuch der Chirurgie, translated into English as A System of Surgery, was widely used.
In a chapter devoted to chest injuries, Chelius … Read more
When I first came across this stirring tale of improvised surgery at sea I wasn’t at all sure it was true. It appeared in 1852 in a minor journal called The Scalpel, which was published in New York between 1849 and 1864. The journal was edited, and largely written, by the indefatigable Dr Edward H. Dixon, a highly-regarded expert … Read more
The Royal Academy of Surgery in Paris was founded in 1731 by Louis XV. It was abolished in 1793 following the Revolution, but for the sixty years of its existence it was one of the leading such institutions in Europe – its official journal, the Mémoires de l’Académie Royale de Chirurgie, was regularly translated into English.
The second … Read more