Removed without the least difficulty

Sir William Fergusson was a leading figure in Victorian medicine. A great and widely respected surgeon, he began his career in Edinburgh in the 1820s before moving to London, and the professorship of surgery at King’s College, in 1840. In very little time he established himself as a pillar of the capital’s medical community, and one of its most successful … Read more

Pricked it all over with a fine needle

I recently came across the online archives of the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Journal, the in-house publication of the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Society. The society was founded in Bristol around 1874 and is still very much in existence – as is its journal, albeit in electronic form. In the very first volume of the BMCJ, published in 1883, can … Read more

Hit in the face with a cow’s stomach

In October 1852 a Bristol surgeon called Augustin Prichard gave a talk at the Bath and Bristol branch of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association entitled ‘Extraneous substances in the eye’. Dr Prichard was an eminent local practitioner with a particular interest in ophthalmic surgery: his MD thesis, based on research he conducted in Berlin, was concerned with the … Read more

The safety valve

This case was reported in 1896 in the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions by a surgeon, Rickman Godlee, who was a distant relative of mine (my second cousin five times removed, since you ask).

Godlee was the nephew of Joseph Lister, the originator of antiseptic surgery, whose innovations dramatically reduced the incidence of postoperative infection. A passionate advocate of his uncle’s antiseptic … Read more

A watch spring, a bean and a clove of garlic

An 1868 issue of a French journal, the Bulletin général de thérapeutique médicale et chirurgical, contains this case report contributed by Paul Pamard, chief of surgery at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Avignon. Pamard was unusual among surgeons in combining his medical practice with a successful political career – and at the time of this case he was serving … Read more