More than common danger

Sir Astley Cooper was the best known, and best paid, surgeon in early nineteenth-century London. He was a great innovator in the field of vascular surgery, devising new methods of treatment for aneurysms and other conditions of the blood vessels. His expertise was both deep and broad: he was an authority on hernias, limb fractures … Continue reading More than common danger

The trumpeter and the walking stick

In is not unheard of for a soldier to be killed as the result of a swordfight. But it is not often that the circumstances are quite as unusual as those of this case, published in The Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science in 1851 – with a patient who looked so little injured that … Continue reading The trumpeter and the walking stick

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

Asleep while she gave birth

Things have been rather quiet on this blog in recent weeks, so apologies if you’ve been missing your regular fix of wince-inducing medical history. I’ve been busy working on a book which will be published in a few months’ time.  The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth (and other curiosities from the history of medicine) brings … Continue reading Asleep while she gave birth

William Harvey at the Royal College of Physicians

The Royal College of Physicians in London, which celebrates its 500th anniversary later this year, is currently staging a small exhibition devoted to one of its most celebrated former Fellows. William Harvey was a prominent member of the College in the 17th century, when he was also personal physician to Charles I.  In 1628 he … Continue reading William Harvey at the Royal College of Physicians

Mr Trought’s tobacco enema

In June 1828 the Lancet published a pair of short case histories that contemporary readers must have found rather confusing. Printed on the same page, they both dealt with cases in which a strangulated hernia had been treated with a tobacco enema (yes, really: an infusion of tobacco administered via the anus). In the first … Continue reading Mr Trought’s tobacco enema