Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Author: Hektoen International

  • Bioarchaeological findings support ancient representations of surgical limb amputation, part one: Examples from the Old World

    Peter de SmetNijmegen, Netherlands See Part Two for examples from the New World Surgical amputation is defined here as the cutting or chopping off a protruding part of the body (as a whole or partial limb). It has been known for a long time that surgical amputees can be represented in the artifacts of ancient…

  • Fasciola hepatica, the liver fluke of sheep and cattle

    The liver flukes Fasciola hepatica and gigantica are parasitic infections that affect humans and animals—cattle, sheep, and goats—in all inhabited areas where they are raised, on all continents, and in over eighty countries. People acquire the disease by eating raw vegetables such as watercress that have been contaminated by one of thirty species of snails,…

  • Tapeworm tribulations

    Taenia saginata, solium, and asiatica are three related species of tapeworms, each with its own lifecycle, mode of transmission, and clinical implications. The adult tapeworms cause few symptoms, but their larvae can be more troublesome. These parasites have afflicted mankind for thousands of years, perhaps when switching from large carnivores to less dangerous hosts such…

  • On blue and blues

    Avi OhryTel Aviv, Israel As a child born with blue eyes, I wondered why I don’t see the world around me in a blue color. Later in life, as an amateur jazz drummer, I was passionate about the popular song “Blue Moon” (1934), Jobim’s “No More Blues”, and blue jeans. The blue color dominates our…

  • Lasting effects of Agent Orange

    Ceres Alhelí Otero PenicheMexico City, Mexico Agent Orange was an herbicide used by the United States military from 1962 to 1971 in the Vietnam War. To prevent Vietnamese soldiers from being able to hide among the trees, Agent Orange was used to clear forests in the regions of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It was also…

  • The bow tie: For nerds only or necessary neckwear?

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “You’ve been with the professors / and they all liked your looks…”–Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man” The tie, whether the long necktie or the bow tie, is a piece of apparel without any real function. It is widely believed that in the late sixteenth century, Croatian mercenary soldiers tied a…

  • Ernest A. Codman and the idea of medical accountability

    Curtis MargoTampa, Florida, United States There are few treatises in the annals of history that have noticeably altered the course of medicine. The first and most conspicuous would be The Corpus, a collection of more than fifty essays attributed to Hippocrates of Cos.1 Among its many gifts to the healing arts was the notion that…

  • King Henry III of Castile, the Suffering

    Nicolas RoblesBadajoz, Spain Henry III of Castile was called “the Suffering” (in Spanish, Enrique III el Doliente) because of his ill health. He was the son of John I and Eleanor of Aragon, born in 1379 in Burgos. Henry was the first person to hold the title of Prince of Asturias as heir to the…

  • Trachoma: Contained but not yet subdued

    Trachoma is a chronic eye infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterium at first thought to be a virus because of its minuscule size. It is the most common infectious cause of blindness worldwide, striking repeatedly in early childhood and, until recently, blinding millions.1 In 1907, Ludwig Halberstadter and Stanislaus von Prowazek observed the causative…

  • Echinococcus granulosus, the sheepdog worm

    In the days when Britain ruled the waves and its colonies, some sheep from Thomas Hardy’s Wessex and other counties followed their masters to the antipodes instead of stupidly jumping off a cliff.1 They multiplied in the sun and produced much wool, some of which was later returned to England under the imperial preference system…