There was an old woman who swallowed a fork…

swallowing of a forkIn 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

Trouble at t’mill

Remarkable case of a lacerated woundLast 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

Glass half-empty

Glass gobletThe 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

Aleing all day, and oiling all night

Comments on corpulencyThose 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

Almost to the ground

scrotumAn article from an 1831 edition of the London Medical Gazette begins unpromisingly: 

Enlargement of the testes, scrotal tumors, and hydrocele, are common diseases to which the inhabitants of Tahiti, and other islands in the Southern Pacific, are subject; nor are they confined to the natives alone, as Europeans, after a long residence, are equally liable to those affections.

Although Read more

All’s well that ends well

An Account of a very remarkable Case of a Boy, who, notwithstanding that a considerable Part of his Intestines was forced out by the Fall of a Cart upon him, and afterwards cut off, recovered, and continued wellA grisly tale, but one with a happy ending: John Nedham wrote to the Philosophical Transactions in 1756 with news of a road traffic accident and its consequences:

On the 3d of January 1755, Mr. N. was called to the son of Lancelot Watts (a day-labourer, living at Brunsted) a servant boy to Mr. Pile, a farmer at Westwick, near Read more

The winged ones: insects in the stomach

Case of a young woman who discharged insects from her stomachIn 1824 the Transactions of the Association of Fellows and Licentiates of the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in Ireland reported an extraordinary case which would continue to be quoted in the medical literature for many decades.  The case was reported in a paper whose lengthy title was abbreviated to the rather snappier ‘Dr Pickells’ case of insects in … Read more