The cheese knife lobotomy

This alarming headline was attached to a letter sent to The Lancet in 1838 by Dr Congreve Selwyn, a family physician in Cheltenham. His brief communication related the story of an unfortunate accident which had taken place in his practice some 17 years earlier: William Bishop, living at Hill Farm, Bosbury, Herefordshire, aged four years … Continue reading The cheese knife lobotomy

The seventy-year-old mother-to-be

Here’s a truly strange case that was reported in the Journal de Médécine de Paris in 1881. It concerns an elderly woman who was believed to have fallen pregnant. Such tales were commonly reported in the early medical literature – there are many to be found in 18th-century journals, for instance – but these examples … Continue reading The seventy-year-old mother-to-be

The case of the drunken Dutchman’s guts

On August 28th 1641 the 21-year-old English diarist John Evelyn visited the great university of Leiden in the Netherlands. He was unimpressed, declaring it ‘nothing extraordinary’, but one building took his fancy: Among all the rarities of this place, I was much pleased with a sight of their anatomy-school, theater, and repository adjoining, which is … Continue reading The case of the drunken Dutchman’s guts

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

The monk with a perfume bottle stuck up his bottom

Today’s dose of medical mishap is excerpted from an influential textbook published in 1837 by George Bushe, a surgeon who died at the age of 39 and about whom little is known. Born and trained in Ireland, he emigrated to the US in his twenties and became a lecturer at Rutgers Medical School in New … Continue reading The monk with a perfume bottle stuck up his bottom

The boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick

The year is 1827, and if you wish to apprise yourself of the latest and most important developments in medicine you could hardly do better than browse the pages of The London Medical and Physical Journal. It is everything a medical journal should be: up-to-date, authoritative, and – above all – serious. What, for instance, … Continue reading The boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick