Odds bodkins

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

A remarkable dislocation

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

Occupational hazard

Here’s a striking report from The London Medical and Surgical Journal, originally published in March 1837. The headline is straightforward enough:

pin swallowing

Two remarkable cases of this kind I have had an opportunity of seeing weekly, for twelve months. The first occurred at Manchester; the second was in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, under the auspices of Mr. — , and both Read more

Degloved by a donkey

Mercer’s Hospital, founded in 1734, was for many years one of the most important teaching hospitals in Ireland – but it is perhaps most readily associated today with a piece of music. In  1742 the first performance of Handel’s Messiah took place in Dublin in a fundraising concert for local charities – Mercer’s Hospital among them.

In 1869 The Medical Read more

Fourteen fingers

August is sometimes known as the ‘silly season’: a period of the year when little seems to be happening, politics grinds to a halt, and newspaper editors are forced to publish nonsense they wouldn’t even consider putting into print at other times of the year.

This story, from an 1844 edition of a French journal, the Gazette des hôpitaux civils Read more

A likely story

The French surgeon Jean Civiale was one of the most significant figures in the history of urology, the branch of medicine dedicated to the urinary (and male reproductive) systems. In the 1820s he devised the technique of lithotripsy to treat bladder stones, the first minimally invasive surgical procedure. Until then, the only way to remove such stones had been to … Read more

Born under a manger

In 1863 a surgeon from the small German town of Gräfenhainichen, Herr Geissler, wrote to one of the Berlin journals to share an extraordinary tale he had encountered in his practice. The publication to which he submitted the case  Monatsschrift für Geburtskunde und Frauenkrankheiten, was devoted to gynaecology and obstetrics and indeed this story is about childbirth – though … Read more