Unfortunate injury of the decade

wound of penisHere’s a story published 150 years ago in the British Medical Journal which made me wince on at least four separate occasions. At a seminar at the Liverpool Medical Institution in January 1863, the cases presented for discussion included the following:

Dr. Nottingham brought forward a case of extraordinary wound of the penis. He said it was more properly a wound of the penis received in an extraordinary way.

Glad we’ve cleared that one up.

A gentleman, after intercourse with his wife, observed haemorrhage, and an incised wound of the penis. It appeared that his wife had been using a glass syringe some days before.

This sounds ominous.

On examination, Dr. Nottingham found a piece of glass behind the uterus fixed at one point. He made use of a four-barred speculum to open out the vagina, and removed the piece of glass with forceps. The woman was unconscious of its presence. He shewed the fragment, which was very thin and sharp; and also the syringe from which it had become detached. In another case, he had found several pieces of glass in the vagina. These glass perforated syringes are very thin and dangerous, and he always recommended a Higginson’s syringe and porcelain tube. 

The thing about doctors is that you can always rely on them to trump any story they hear, however grisly. Step forward Mr Denton: 

Mr. Denton had met with a case in which, during intercourse, the husband met with an alarming accident. A stem pessary… 

A stem pessary was an early type of intra-uterine device (IUD), inserted into the uterus as a contraceptive measure. 

…which the female was wearing had become inverted, and the stem, projecting into the vagina, had entered the man’s urethra and caused great pain and great haemorrhage. Mr. Higginson said that some pessaries, when the stems are short, are liable to turn round, and also to drop out entirely.

Ouch.  I might just go and have a quick lie-down.

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