The French surgeon Auguste Nélaton is one of those figures better known for the company he kept than for what he did. As well as acting as personal physician to Napoleon III, Nélaton famously treated Giuseppe Garibaldi, the unifier of Italy, for a bullet wound.
It seems unfair that Nélaton is principally remembered for his connections with other … Read more
In 1829 a surgeon from Wolverhampton, William Lewis, contributed this unusual surgical tale to The Lancet:
John Roden, a boy about 11 years of age, (of the Deanery-row,) of a spare habit and pale complexion, received a shot wound on the 5th of November last, while passing a door from behind which a pistol was discharged, loaded with a … Read more
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
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
The French surgeon Jules Germain Cloquet was a man of many talents. A member of the Paris Academy of Medicine, he made his name as an authority on hernias and took an interest in the latest medical developments: in 1829 he even performed a mastectomy on a patient who had been hypnotised to feel no pain. But he was also … Read more
A strange case of mistaken identity was reported in the Berliner klinische Wochenschrift in 1874, and subsequently translated in the Medical Herald. It was given this striking headline:
W. K., a strongly-built farmer, aged 57, was injured on the 25th of October, 1867, by falling from his wagon. As he got up, the horse forced him against a tree, … Read more
Philipp Franz von Walther was an eminent German surgeon highly regarded for his expertise in ophthalmology and as a pioneer in plastic surgery. While serving as professor at the University of Bonn he was also the co-editor of an influential periodical, the Journal der Chirurgie und Augenheilkunde. In 1822 he published this surprising clinical report, which was subsequently translated (and, … Read more
Here’s an intriguing snippet reported by the Paris correspondent of the Lancet in September 1882:
We have now a patient in the Lariboisiere Hospital who has been operated on by Dr. Felizet for the removal of a spoon from the stomach. The patient was a waiter at a café who in a frolic accidentally swallowed a spoon. It was a … Read more
This fascinating case report was published in the Philosophical Transactions in 1701, contributed by a distinguished Dublin physician, Thomas Molyneux. It is notable both for the unusual nature of the injury, and for the remarkably sophisticated surgery that followed.
Dorcas Blake, a full-bodied sanguine maid, of about twenty years old…
Ms Blake was ‘sanguine’ in a particular medical sense. Since … Read more
Charles White was an eminent Manchester surgeon of the eighteenth century. As a young man he studied anatomy in London with William Hunter, and became friendly with William’s brother John, the outstanding medical scientist of the age. Returning to Manchester, he set up in private practice and co-founded the city’s infirmary in 1752. He also attained considerable fame … Read more