A harrowing incident

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:

wound of the liver

Anthony B., a lad aged 17, while standing beside a Read more

A week entombed in a snowdrift

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

The bladder shrimp

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

The eye magnet

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

The lucky Prussian

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

An interesting and remarkable accident

This is one of those cases that at first reading seems inherently unlikely – but, bizarre as it sounds, has a perfectly rational medical explanation. It took place in the 1830s but was only reported in any detail three-quarters of a century later. This article was contributed to the Buffalo Medical Journal by Dr Roswell Park, the founder of … Read more