Hook, line and Liston

In 1844 the great surgeon Robert Liston gave an influential series of lectures at University College London on the technique of surgery. The second lecture in this series, concerning operations on the neck, includes this unusual case: Occasionally you find very curious foreign bodies lodged in the throat. The following case came under my notice … Continue reading Hook, line and Liston

The monk with a perfume bottle stuck up his bottom

Today’s dose of medical mishap is excerpted from an influential textbook published in 1837 by George Bushe, a surgeon who died at the age of 39 and about whom little is known. Born and trained in Ireland, he emigrated to the US in his twenties and became a lecturer at Rutgers Medical School in New … Continue reading The monk with a perfume bottle stuck up his bottom

The boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick

The year is 1827, and if you wish to apprise yourself of the latest and most important developments in medicine you could hardly do better than browse the pages of The London Medical and Physical Journal. It is everything a medical journal should be: up-to-date, authoritative, and – above all – serious. What, for instance, … Continue reading The boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick

Painful news from the Bobbin Factory

Here’s something that will make you wince, and then marvel at the human body’s recuperative abilities. In 1849 Dr Thomas Sanborn, a surgeon from Newport in New Hampshire, wrote to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal: A young man, aged 23 years, engaged in the Bobbin Factory, was caught, while standing over a revolving arbor … Continue reading Painful news from the Bobbin Factory

Broken glass and boiled cabbage

Here’s a case reported in the London Medical Gazette in 1839 which we must file under ‘unbelievably stupid things done by young men’. It comes originally from a book published in 1787 by Antoine Portal, a distinguished physician who was personal doctor to Louis XVIII, and the founder of the French Royal Academy of Medicine. He … Continue reading Broken glass and boiled cabbage