Committee reports aren’t exactly famed for their entertainment value. But while leafing through the 1850 volume of the Transactions of the American Medical Association I found one that contained an unexpected gem:
Buried deep within this lengthy document is a section about aneurysms – a disorder of the blood vessels in which a localised weakness causes the vessel to bulge … Read more
This case was published in the Report of the Army Medical Department for 1873, an annual publication produced by the medics of the British military. Browsing its pages, my first reaction was astonishment at the sheer size of the British Army at the height of Empire, and how many parts of the world they were stationed in: much of … Read more
This case was reported in 1896 in the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions by a surgeon, Rickman Godlee, who was a distant relative of mine (my second cousin five times removed, since you ask).
Godlee was the nephew of Joseph Lister, the originator of antiseptic surgery, whose innovations dramatically reduced the incidence of postoperative infection. A passionate advocate of his uncle’s antiseptic … Read more
Here’s a medical short story with a sting in the tail, first told in the French Gazette des Hopitaux in October 1860. The author is a Monsieur de Saint-Laurent, a surgeon at the Hôpital Cochin in Paris.
L– George, aged four months, of a fine constitution and not emaciated, arrived at the hospital on June 20 1860. The mother told … Read more
Ulysse Trélat was a prominent French surgeon of the nineteenth century. He served as surgeon-in-chief to most of the major hospitals of Paris, published important textbooks and received the highest honour the French state can bestow, the Légion d’Honneur. His name still appears today in medical dictionaries as the co-inventor of an operation to treat cleft palate, and for the … Read more
On February 2 1888 the newly-founded Brooklyn Surgical Society held one of its regular meetings in New York. Local surgeons presented new research and reported on their recent surgical experience. But the most memorable event of the evening was a presentation by Dr George Fowler, a surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital. He began by asking one of his patients to … Read more
An 1868 issue of a French journal, the Bulletin général de thérapeutique médicale et chirurgical, contains this case report contributed by Paul Pamard, chief of surgery at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Avignon. Pamard was unusual among surgeons in combining his medical practice with a successful political career – and at the time of this case he was serving … Read more
The following remarkable narrative was published in The Medical and Physical Journal in April 1812. The author, Stephen Love Hammick, was in his mid-thirties when he reported this case; he was later made a baronet in acknowledgment for his service as personal physician to the Prince of Wales. He was also one of the original 300 fellows of the Royal … Read more
In 1873 a physician from St Louis, Dr Walter Coles, recorded a particularly unusual home visit he had recently been asked to make. His report was published in the St Louis Medical and Surgical Journal:
On the evening of the 1st of May, we were summoned in haste to the residence of a gentleman nearby, to see a boy … Read more
The French surgeon Jules Germain Cloquet was a man of many talents. A member of the Paris Academy of Medicine, he made his name as an authority on hernias and took an interest in the latest medical developments: in 1829 he even performed a mastectomy on a patient who had been hypnotised to feel no pain. But he was also … Read more