An immense plug of wood

 Sometimes a headline says it all. In June 1842 the London Medical Gazette printed a letter under this memorable title:

Stick in the rectum

The case report that followed was submitted by a retired naval surgeon called Archibald Blacklock (previously featured on this blog, and best known as the man who crept into Robert Burns’s tomb one night in 1834 and took a … 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

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

A practical joke

Some of the greatest advances in nineteenth-century surgery were made by military surgeons. British surgeons were not exactly short of opportunities: the country’s military forces began the century at war with France, and ended it fighting the Boers, with barely a peaceful year in between. While battlefield injuries provided horribly frequent opportunities for improving surgical techniques, not every wound was … Read more

Irritating the genitals by various means

One of the most popular stories on this blog is that of the nineteenth-century Frenchman who cut his own penis in two for sexual gratification. If you type the keywords ‘man cut penis two’ into pretty much any search engine, it’s the top hit – on the entire internet.  If that’s not success, I don’t know what is.

That … Read more