Surgery

Fun with pigs

by Helen King May 10, 2013
Fun with pigs

By Helen King   Finally, I understand what it is about dissection… Regular readers will know that, among other things, I’m a visiting professor at a medical school. As a recently-founded medical school, this one does not teach through human dissection. Instead, students learn their anatomy through books, computer simulations, models, and ‘surface anatomy’. The […]

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12 Days: On the Trail of a Lobotomist

by JackEl-Hai December 11, 2012
12 Days: On the Trail of a Lobotomist

by Jack El-Hai (Wonders & Marvels contributor) Like many of my literary quests, my book The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness began by chance and took a long time to complete. Back in 1996 I was the author of a single book about the collections […]

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Theatres of Anatomy

by Helen King October 10, 2012
Theatres of Anatomy

By Helen King (W&M contributor) I was recently lucky enough to visit for the first time two historic anatomy theatres: the oldest permanent structure, the Padua anatomy theatre of 1594, and the 1638-39 one in Bologna. Before 1594, anatomy theatres were temporary structures, in some cases erected at the expense of the professor performing the dissection. […]

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WARNING: TOXIC! The Deadly Dead

by Lindsey Fitzharris September 2, 2012
WARNING: TOXIC! The Deadly Dead

By Lindsey Fitzharris (W&M Contributor) When a person thinks of anatomical specimens from the past, he or she may think of disembodied remains floating in glass jars filled with alcohol. The Hunterian Collection at the Royal College of Surgeons in London is full of such specimens—unborn foetuses suspended in time as if still incubating in […]

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Torturing the Dead: The Prevention of Premature Burial and Dissection

by Lindsey Fitzharris June 9, 2012
Torturing the Dead: The Prevention of Premature Burial and Dissection

By Lindsey Fitzharris (W&M Contributor) In 1746, Jacques-Bénigne Winslow wrote: “Tho’ Death, at some Time or other, is the necessary and unavoidable Portion of Human Nature in its present Condition, yet it is not always certain, that Persons taken for dead are really and irretrievably deprived of Life.” Indeed, the Danish anatomist went on to […]

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“One night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury:” Syphilis and “Syphilophobes” in Early Modern England

by Lindsey Fitzharris March 1, 2012
"One night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury:" Syphilis and "Syphilophobes" in Early Modern England

Before the discovery of penicillin in 1928, syphilis was an incurable disease. Its symptoms were as terrifying as they were unrelenting. Those who suffered from it long enough could expect to develop unsightly skin ulcers, paralysis, gradual blindness, dementia and “saddle nose,” a grotesque deformity which occurs when the bridge of the nose caves into […]

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Dissecting the Living: Vivisection in Early Modern England

by Lindsey Fitzharris February 22, 2012
Dissecting the Living: Vivisection in Early Modern England

In 1664, Robert Hooke—a pioneering member of the Royal Society and lead scientific thinker of his day—decided to investigate the mechanisms involved in breathing. In his laboratory, he strapped a stray dog to his table. Then, taking his scalpel, he proceeded to slice the terrified animal’s chest off so he could peer inside the thoracic […]

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John Arderne, Butt Of No Jokes

by marrilynn February 2, 2012
John Arderne, Butt Of No Jokes

By Marri Lynn (W&M Regular Contributor)   When one thinks of the gruesome injuries that could befall a knight in service, one usually thinks of crushed skulls, arrows through the ribs, and unfortunate liaisons between necks and the pointy ends of spears. John Arderne, a fourteenth-century English surgeon, acquired plenty of experience dealing with these […]

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Even Royal Molars Decay

by Holly Tucker December 15, 2011
Even Royal Molars Decay

By Lauren Renaud (Vanderbilt University) A gleaming white smile represents youth and beauty. Today, pearly whites are achievable for many through regular visits to the dentist. However, in eighteenth century France, the dental field was just seceding from quackery. A new professional, the dentiste, was replacing local blacksmiths who remedied toothaches through extraction with bulky […]

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Manly Menstruation?

by Lisa Smith December 5, 2011
Manly Menstruation?

By Lisa Smith (W&M Regular Contributor) In 1780, physician M. Carrere wrote a letter to the French Royal Society of Medicine describing the unusual case of a twenty-five year old miller, Jacques Sola, who bled monthly from his right little finger. Sola became ill with dysentery and peripneumonia in 1764. The cause? Sola’s blood flow had […]

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Drinking Blood and Eating Flesh: Corpse Medicine in Early Modern England

by Lindsey Fitzharris December 2, 2011
Drinking Blood and Eating Flesh: Corpse Medicine in Early Modern England

By Lindsey Fitzharris (W&M Contributor) In order to restore youth to an aging body, the fifteenth-century practitioner, Marsilio Ficino, advised: There is a common and ancient opinion that certain prophetic women who are popularly called ‘screech-owls’ suck the blood of infants as a means, insofar as they can, of growing young again. Why shouldn’t our old people, […]

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Cutting for the Stone: the Case of Stephen Pollard

by Lindsey Fitzharris September 28, 2011
Cutting for the Stone: the Case of Stephen Pollard

By Lindsey Fitzharris  (W&M Contributor) If you visit the Gordon Museum at Guy’s Hospital in London, you will see a small bladder stone—no bigger than 3 centimetres across.  Besides the fact that it has been sliced open to reveal concentric circles within, it is entirely unremarkable in appearance. Yet, this tiny stone was the source […]

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Lobotomies and Stomach Surgery

by Holly Tucker January 10, 2011
Lobotomies and Stomach Surgery

By Randi Hutter Epstein Recently, I came across a few newspaper articles about the stomach-constricting band to cure obesity. At the same time, I was immersed in a book about lobotomies to cure insanity. Sure, one is news and the other is history, but I couldn’t help but see the parallels. Not about being obese […]

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