The fiery finger

Can the human body spontaneously catch fire?  For many years people believed that it could. Spontaneous human combustion was a topic that fascinated medics and the general public for many years. In the early nineteenth century it was widely believed to be a genuine phenomenon, caused by some quirk of human physiology (I’ve previously written about one celebrated case from … Read more

A remarkable dislocation

Charles White was an eminent Manchester surgeon of the eighteenth century. As a young man he studied anatomy in London with William Hunter, and became friendly with William’s brother John, the outstanding medical scientist of the age. Returning to Manchester, he set up in private practice and co-founded the city’s infirmary in 1752. He also attained considerable fame … Read more

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

Scalpel, suture and Swedish turnips

Here’s an intriguing article from the American Medico-Surgical Bulletin of 1895, summarising a paper published in a German journal:

intestinal anastomosis using potato plates

The author reports a successful case of strangulated hernia, in which, after resection of about 3 inches of intestine, he performed lateral intestinal anastomosis. 

Strangulated hernia is a condition in which a loop of the bowel protrudes through a hole in … Read more