Impaled on a stake

Recovery from accidentHow 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

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

Somewhat silly in his manner

Singular case of foreign object in the bladderFans 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

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