Amputating the bowels

Browsing an 1869 edition of The Lancet I stumbled across a short news article with this promising headline:

Remarkable operation

A cutting from an American paper gives us an account of a remarkable operation for umbilical hernia, in which the operator, Dr. G. D. Beebe, found it necessary to cut away between four and five feet of sphacelated small intestine. 

‘Sphacelated’ is … Read more

Occupation: glass and nail eater

Case of foreign bodies in the stomachThis case, reported in the Annals of Surgery in 1907, has one of the best patient histories I’ve ever read. The medical literature is packed with examples of people swallowing indigestible objects, but this example is surely one of the most extraordinary. The narrator is Arthur E. Benjamin, a surgeon from Minneapolis:

Mr. E. W., aged 47, American, 4 feet Read more

Death from peas

In July 1842 the London Medical Gazette printed one of the most intriguing headlines in the history of the journal:

Death from peasThe story accompanying it was told by George Johnson, a physician’s assistant at King’s College Hospital in London. This is what he had to relate: 

peasJohn Lydbury, aged 60, labourer, was brought to the hospital on Monday, June 27th, when Read more

The double monster

The phenomenon of conjoined twins was poorly understood until the twentieth century. Though even the earliest medical journals contain reports of many cases, the predominant tone is one of horror and even fear rather than compassion or detached interest. Right up until the end of the nineteenth century, words such as ‘monster’ or ‘monstrosity’ were commonly used to describe them, … Read more