Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: spinal cord

  • Humans with tails

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “…he had been born and had grown up with a cartilaginous tail in the shape of acorkscrew with a small tuft of hair on the tip.”— Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude1 The chance of a child being born with a tail-like lumbosacral appendage is small. About sixty cases have…

  • Walter E. Dandy, one of the founders of neurosurgery

    Philip R. Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   Johns Hopkins, where Dandy studied. Photo by Lizardraley99, 2012. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 3.0 Three pioneers established the discipline of neurosurgery. They were the British surgeon Victor Horsley and the Americans Harvey Cushing and Walter Dandy. Both Americans were surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Dandy (1886-1946)…

  • Sympathectomy for hypertension

    Components of the sympathetic trunk. Redrawn from Wolf-Heidegger’s Atlas of Human Anatomy. From Anatomic Origin and Molecular Genetics in Neuroblastoma. CC BY 3.0. Sympathectomy for essential hypertension was introduced in the late 1920s at a time when no effective medical treatment was available. It consisted of resecting several sympathetic neurons that exit the spinal cord…

  • Origins of the knee jerk

    JMS Pearce  East Yorks, England   Wilhelm Heinrich Erb. By F. Langbein & Cie. Heidelberg. 1897. Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0 Reflex hammers are the icon or hallmark of every neurologist. How important are the reflexes they elicit? What is their mechanism? The advent of modern technology has made it easy to forget…

  • Gerard Blasius (1627–1682)

    Gerard Blaes (Blasius) was a Dutch physician and anatomist, famous for his work on the spinal cord and for one of his students discovering the parotid (Stensen’s) duct. As a young man he had lived and studied in Copenhagen, where his father was architect to the king of Denmark. When his father died, his family returned…

  • The future of medicine

    Hannah Wilson Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States   Photo by Hannah Wilson “Nobody can be told what the matrix is, you have to see it for yourself. … Morpheus: If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain,” Neo, The Matrix, 1999. Tomorrow was…

  • Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

    Christopher H. CameronKelso, Scottish Borders, United Kingdom The call came at two o’clock from John, a far-flung hill farmer/patient, who sounded puzzled and alarmed. Two teenage girls had arrived at his door in distress and with a garbled tale. They and a third young girl had been dropped at first light by one set of…