Monthly Archives: November 2019

Fleas in art and medicine

Fleas cause itching and red bite marks on their hosts but are nowadays mainly a nuisance. This was not always so. In the Middle Ages they spread bubonic plague from rats to man, causing the Black Death epidemics that killed 25 million people—up to 50% of the Europe’s population. They also transmit the agents causing […]

Opening the left ventricle

This image is from Henry W. Cattell’s 1905 Post-mortem pathology; a manual of post-mortem examinations and the interpretations to be drawn therefrom; a practical treatise for students and practioners. It shows the approach for opening the left ventricle after the heart is removed from the body. Page from Postmortem pathology; a manual of the technic […]

Four Women Dancing

The urge to move to music is universal. Dancing represents an essential part of human culture, and acts as a social unifier, increasing cohesion in a group. Collective effervescence, a concept created by sociologist Émile Durkheim, is what sits at the heart of dancing and gives it its unifying power. A more unified community is […]

Sawing to the bone

This illustration, believed to be the frontispiece of one of the surgical texts by Walter Hermann Ryff, is perhaps one of the more realistic for its time. During this era, anatomical and medical texts tended to be fairly bloodless, portraying flayed human beings in states of repose. Here instead we see a leg amputation with […]

Up to date orthopedics

This image of how to treat fractures of the elbow was published in Industrial medicine and surgery in 1919. The arm is held with the elbow fully flexed, and motion under supervision is encouraged after about five days. Currently these fractures are treated similarly, but there is a tendency to have a different degree of […]

Painting an honest image

Rachel Fleishman Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Sleepy Baby, 1910, Mary Cassatt, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, USA I send my colleague home to kiss her children, then go to the nursery to meet my patient. The obstetrician shows me the newborn’s penis; it will not stop bleeding. Together, we wrap it with a […]

From enigma to Jeremy

Ami Schattner Jerusalem, Israel   The Doctor. Sir Luke Fildes. Exhibited 1891. Photo © Tate. CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported). One day each week I leave my hospital to serve as a consultant in ambulatory internal medicine. General practitioners from the area refer difficult patients to me, and thus my encounters vary from the very simple to […]

Photography in medicine

Doctors adopted the idea of using photography in medicine within one year of its invention. In 1840 at the Charité Hospital in Paris, Alfred François Donné photographed sections of bones and teeth by making daguerreotypes through a microscope. Between from 1848 to 1858 the British psychiatrist Hugh Welch Diamond photographed patients in an asylum and […]

Improving the ophthalmoscope

Christian Georg Theodor Ruete (1810-1867) studied in Göttingen, Germany, and became full professor there in 1846 and in Leipzig from 1852 to 1867. He conducted extensive research on eye disorders and made modifications to the ophthalmoscope that Hermann von Helmholtz had invented in 1851, adding a concave focusing mirror that allowed a better view of […]

Cells of an embryo

The layers of cells in an embryo, also known as germ layers, develop in stages to create all the parts of the living body. This image from 1874 illustrates exactly that. Showing the differing shapes of differing embryos, but matching the colors of each system across them, creates an effective tool. For example, the yellow […]