Such is the fortitude of females

Rhinoplasty is one of the oldest surgical operations, known to have been practised by the Indian surgeon Sushruta in the 1st millennium BC, and with great sophistication in the 17th century by the Italian physician Gaspare Tagliacozzi, who created new noses from the muscles of the upper arm. This case reported in the 1830s in … Continue reading Such is the fortitude of females

The cod-liver oil binge

Lupus is an autoimmune disease characterised by a skin rash, joint pain and fatigue.  Although poorly understood even today, it is known to be caused by an anomalous response of the body’s immune system, which erroneously begins to attack otherwise healthy tissue. In 1852, when the Canada Medical Journal reported this case, the condition was … Continue reading The cod-liver oil binge

The self-performed caesarian

A jaw-dropping case was reported in The New York Medical and Physical Journal in 1823, one in which a patient conducted an operation on herself.  The best-known example of self-operation occurred in 1961, when a Soviet surgeon working on an Antarctic base was forced to take out his own infected appendix; this much earlier case … Continue reading The self-performed caesarian

Opium – perfect for babies

In 1849 Mrs Charlotte Winslow of Bangor in Maine invented a medicinal product for children which was as successful in its day as Calpol is now.  Any comparison must, however, end there. ‘Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup’ was marketed as an effective analgesic, to be given to teething infants and older children with indigestion.  A contemporary advertisement … Continue reading Opium – perfect for babies

Fingers crossed

A short but – to me – fascinating article from the Medico-Chirurgical Review. Surgeons are now quite adept at reattaching fingers, toes or even entire hands after cases of accidental amputation, assuming the separated part has been carefully preserved: celebrated cases include Arsenio Matias, who had both hands reattached after an industrial accident, and Everett Knowles, … Continue reading Fingers crossed

All’s well that ends well

A grisly tale, but one with a happy ending: John Nedham wrote to the Philosophical Transactions in 1756 with news of a road traffic accident and its consequences: On the 3d of January 1755, Mr. N. was called to the son of Lancelot Watts (a day-labourer, living at Brunsted) a servant boy to Mr. Pile, a farmer at Westwick, near North-Walsham, Norfolk, aged 13 years. He was overturned … Continue reading All’s well that ends well

It makes you go blind, you know

Nineteenth-century medical journals were much preoccupied with the sin of self-harm.  One authority on mental illnesses even suggested that masturbation was the leading cause of insanity in asylum patients.  An edition of the Canada Medical Journal published in 1870 contains a typical report: Case 1st: J.C., aged 18. Was called to see him in the fall … Continue reading It makes you go blind, you know