corps etrangers

The Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales, published in France between 1812 and 1822, was the first encyclopaedic dictionary of medicine. It’s a massive work, running to 60 volumes.  To get a sense of its scale, consider the fact that volume seven, a tome of some 700 pages, deal only with the alphabet between COR and CYS. Among those articles is … Read more

A hopeless case?

Fracture of leg, shoulder and skull

In 1868 the Richmond Medical Journal reported an extraordinary accident which had befallen a 9-year-old boy at a cotton press in Missouri. Since few of my readers are likely to have an instant mental image of one of these pieces of machinery, here’s a quick description.

A cotton press was a substantial contraption typically made from oak beams. Its function … Read more

The perils of being a writer

An Essay on Diseases Incident to Literary and Sedentary Persons

Having spent most of the last year sitting in seclusion writing and editing my first book, I was amused to come across an essay by the eighteenth-century Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot.  Tissot is perhaps best known today for his work L’Onanisme, the first scholarly examination of masturbation (executive summary: he was not a fan).  In 1769 he published … Read more

The missing pencil

Removal of a lead pencilToday’s medical dispatch comes from the Canada Medical Journal, and was submitted to that publication in 1867 by Dr Thomas Jones, a physician from Montreal. It gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘putting lead in your pencil’.

Michael Creigh, a native of Ireland, aged forty-eight years, applied at the Montreal General Hospital, in December, 1862, for surgical assistance. Read more