I came across this unusual case in a book published in 1876, A Dozen Cases: Clinical Surgery by William Tod Helmuth, a distinguished homeopathic surgeon. The phrase ‘homeopathic surgeon’ might sound like a contradiction in terms, if all you know of homeopathy is sugar pills and massively diluted tinctures. But in nineteenth-century America, where homeopathy was one of several rival … Read more
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
I have reported a few eye-watering tales on this blog in the past, but few stories deserve the epithet quite so literally as this one. It was published in a French journal of ophthalmic medicine, the Annales d’oculistique, in 1850. The author, Dr Collette, was a doctor from Liege in Belgium; a contemporary directory refers to him as a … Read more
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
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
This painful case was recorded in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences in 1839. The author, Dr Isaac Hulse, was the surgeon in charge of the US Navy hospital in Pensacola, Florida:
On the 7th of August last, Mr. Q. of this place, while in the privy, perceived himself to be stung by a spider on the glans penis. … Read more
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