She swallowed a mouse

In 1833 one Dr Heymann, a doctor from the Westphalian town of Oldendorf, submitted a really rather extraordinary case to a German journal, Hufelands Journal der practischen Heilkunde. It is almost certainly without parallel in the medical literature, given that the headline translates as ‘A living mouse swallowed’: A desperately poor labourer in the village … Continue reading She swallowed a mouse

Cosmetic(s) surgery

This unexpected discovery was reported in a French journal, the Répertoire Generale d’Anatomie, in 1827. The patient was treated by Guillaume Dupuytren, the leading French surgeon of the day – although this was far from being one of his most celebrated cases: Ann G—, forty-five years old, presented herself at a consultation of the Hotel-Dieu, … Continue reading Cosmetic(s) surgery

The lithophagus

Unless you’re a marine biologist, the chances are that you’ve never used the word ‘lithophagus’.  You may have eaten one, however: Lithophaga is a genus of mussels, some of whose species are edible, often served in a garlic, white wine and parsley sauce with plenty of crusty bread. Delicious. But I digress. ‘Lithophagus’ comes from … Continue reading The lithophagus

Born in a cesspit

This strange little tale appeared in the London Medical and Surgical Journal in June 1832:  A curious case of this description became the subject of investigation at the Bow-street Police Office, a few days ago. Interestingly, this crime was not being investigated by what we would regard as the ‘official’ police. London’s Metropolitan Police had been set … Continue reading Born in a cesspit

The lucky Prussian

Maximilian Joseph von Chelius was a prominent 19th-century German surgeon who had a significant influence on medics right across Europe. His lectures were frequently quoted in the London and Edinburgh journals, and his textbook Handbuch der Chirurgie, translated into English as A System of Surgery, was widely used. In a chapter devoted to chest injuries, … Continue reading The lucky Prussian

Mr Dendy’s egg-cup case

In 1834 the Lancet published a wonderfully unusual article by Walter Dendy, a surgeon from Blackfriars in London. The heading at the top of each page refers to it simply as ‘Mr Dendy’s Egg-Cup Case’ – a splendid description of a splendid case: Mr Adams, a man 60 years of age, had been afflicted with … Continue reading Mr Dendy’s egg-cup case