Putting a patient to sleep (without anaesthetic)

Have you ever wondered how patients in the era before anaesthetics were persuaded to undergo excruciatingly painful operations? The answer – fairly obviously – is ‘with great difficulty’. Some brave souls were able to grit their teeth and bear it, and others made things simpler for the surgeon (and themselves) by simply passing out from … Continue reading Putting a patient to sleep (without anaesthetic)

Impaled on a stake

How about this for a lucky escape?  It’s the sort of grisly farm accident which might be featured in a medical documentary like 24 Hours in A&E, with one significant difference. Anybody unlucky enough to be impaled by a stake today could expect major surgery and a lengthy hospital stay – but this patient made … Continue reading Impaled on a stake

The man with the rubber jaw

Maxillofacial surgeons are some of the most ridiculously overqualified people on the planet. In the UK it is compulsory for them to hold degrees in both medicine and dentistry, and they can only practise after well over a decade of training. This enviable expertise equips them to undertake a wide range of procedures on the face, … Continue reading The man with the rubber jaw

Medicine or marinade?

Early nineteenth-century doctors had some funny ideas about treating infectious disease.  Before the discovery of microbes, next to nothing was known about what caused infections, or how to cure them.   For many years, physicians believed that stimulating the outer surfaces of the body would have an effect.  Several methods of doing so were employed: cupping, … Continue reading Medicine or marinade?

Trouble at t’mill

Last week I revealed the dangers of working in the mirror manufacturing trade in 19th-century Bohemia.  Here’s another tale of occupational peril, published in The Western Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences in 1833. Mr. J., about twelve weeks since, while standing near the end of the arbor of a heavy grindstone revolving rapidly … Continue reading Trouble at t’mill

Such is the fortitude of females

Rhinoplasty is one of the oldest surgical operations, known to have been practised by the Indian surgeon Sushruta in the 1st millennium BC, and with great sophistication in the 17th century by the Italian physician Gaspare Tagliacozzi, who created new noses from the muscles of the upper arm. This case reported in the 1830s in … Continue reading Such is the fortitude of females