Hook, line and Liston

In 1844 the great surgeon Robert Liston gave an influential series of lectures at University College London on the technique of surgery. The second lecture in this series, concerning operations on the neck, includes this unusual case: Occasionally you find very curious foreign bodies lodged in the throat. The following case came under my notice … Continue reading Hook, line and Liston

An extraordinary surgical operation

Last week I came across an article which took my breath away. It was published in 1858, in an American journal, the Medical and Surgical Reporter, and it describes an operation of such audacity and skill that I can’t believe it isn’t better known. This is how it was reported: At the request of a … Continue reading An extraordinary surgical operation

Like finding a needle in a pharynx

In November 1828 several English-language journals picked up a case which had appeared in the Revue Medicale, a French medical journal, the previous month. It begins promisingly: A man, aged twenty-five years, was irritating his nostril with a needle… As you do. …when by some accident he suffered it to enter the nostril through which … Continue reading Like finding a needle in a pharynx

Spirits go straight to your head

I recently stumbled across this intriguing snippet in John Cooke’s A Treatise on Nervous Diseases (1824): I am informed by Mr. Carlisle, that “a few years since a man was brought dead into the Westminster Hospital who had just drunk a quart of gin for a wager. The evidences of death being quite conclusive, he was immediately examined; and … Continue reading Spirits go straight to your head

The man who peed a bullet

Gunshot wounds have always been a particular challenge for the medic. Some of the oldest surgical manuals contain advice on removing balls or bullets lodged superficially – it was often possible to remove missiles from soft tissue or bone near the skin. But if they had penetrated deeper into body cavities or damaged internal organs … Continue reading The man who peed a bullet