This brief case report is a reminder that there are certain medical horrors which were once commonplace but which are never seen today in the developed world. Untreatable conditions would progress unhindered, often resulting in terrible deformity. Tumours could reach a size almost unimaginable to the modern mind – although in developing countries such cases do, sadly, still arise.
This … Read more
Here’s a story published 150 years ago in the British Medical Journal which made me wince on at least four separate occasions. At a seminar at the Liverpool Medical Institution in January 1863, the cases presented for discussion included the following:
Dr. Nottingham brought forward a case of extraordinary wound of the penis. He said it was more properly a … Read more
How about this for a lucky escape? It’s the sort of grisly farm accident which might be featured in a medical documentary like 24 Hours in A&E, with one significant difference. Anybody unlucky enough to be impaled by a stake today could expect major surgery and a lengthy hospital stay – but this patient made a total recovery after … Read more
Insects and spiders colonising the human body were a regular feature of medical journal articles in the 19th century. For instance, there’s the woman with spiders in her eyes, and the remarkable case of the boy who appeared to have a millipede colony in his stomach. This report involving a beetle appeared in the American Journal of the … Read more
In 1868 the Medical and Surgical Reporter contained a report of an unusual case received from the physicians of the insane asylum at Zutphen, a town in the Netherlands.
The patient was a woman 64 years old, affected with lypemania…
Lypemania is an archaic term, meaning an excessive fondness for melancholy. Today a patient suffering from these symptoms would probably … Read more
Fans of nominative determination – the idea that a person’s name can have a bearing on their choice of career – may enjoy this little tale from the Virginia Medical Journal, reported in 1857. It concerns a urologist from Guy’s Hospital, one Mr Cock. Stop giggling at the back:
Mr. Cock, at Guy’s, has recently had more than one … Read more
HMS Grampus, a battleship launched in 1802, ended her days as a hospital ship moored off Greenwich. Between 1816 and 1831, when she was replaced by another retired naval ship – HMS Dreadnought – a steady stream of naval patients was treated on board. In 1821 the ship was taken over by the Seamen’s Hospital Society, making HMS Grampus … Read more
Last week I revealed the dangers of working in the mirror manufacturing trade in 19th-century Bohemia. Here’s another tale of occupational peril, published in The Western Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences in 1833.
Mr. J., about twelve weeks since, while standing near the end of the arbor of a heavy grindstone revolving rapidly by water power, … Read more
The remarkable headline above graced the pages of the American Journal of the Medical Sciences in April 1849. In case you’re wondering, the two injuries are not related: the author just thought he’d put his two most spectacular cases in the same article.
Dr W.S.W Ruschenberger, surgeon to the US Navy, writes:
While recently on a visit to Canton, I … Read more
Those who think that morbid obesity is a uniquely modern phenomenon should read William Wadd’s ‘Comments on Corpulency’, published over several issues of the London Medical Gazette in 1828. In a long essay he considered dozens of cases he had encountered, many of whom would be today under the care of a bariatric surgeon. Here’s one of them: this encounter … Read more