Pathology Spotlight- Vitamin D Deficiency: Osteomalacia and Rickets

Bones are made principally from a combination of the protein collagen (30%) and the calcium-based mineral hydroxyapatite (70%). Inadequate production of the mineral portion of bone can lead to soft bones, a condition called osteomalacia. The usual cause is a deficiency in vitamin D, which is required to absorb calcium from the diet. Vitamin D…

Pathology Spotlight: Sooty Lungs

Senior Research Fellow, Ken Donaldson looks at the causes of Environmental anthracosis or ‘lung black spots’.   The image is of the cut surface of a specimen of normal lung that was preserved in the early 19th century. At that time coal, candles and oil were burnt in homes for heat, light and cooking and…

Pathology Spotlight: Brain Aneurysm

Our Human Remains Conservator takes a look at Brain Aneurysms in our latest Pathology Spotlight blog.   The walls of our arteries and veins are composed of three layers,  with varying amounts of elasticity to respond to the pulses of blood that come from the heart’s regular beating. Sometimes areas of the wall can become thin…

Pathology Spotlight: Galeazzi Fracture of the Radius

In February’s Pathology Spotlight, Professor Ken Donaldson, Senior Research Fellow in the Museum takes explains Galeazzi Fractures.   The radius, the forearm bone that connects to the thumb, has been broken by trauma near its end (arrow) and the hand is deflected upwards. The ulna has retained its position but the forced lateral and upward…

Pathology Spotlight: Horse-Shoe Kidney

Sometimes during development the lower ends of the foetal kidneys fuse together, resulting in one u-shaped organ, rather than the normal pair of kidneys lying either side of the spine. This is known as a horse-shoe kidney, or ren arcuatus. The fusion usually takes place between weeks 7 and 9 of development. The horse-shoe kidney…

Pathology Spotlight: Onychogryphosis

Onychogryphosis, or Ram’s Horn Nail, is a condition in which there is abnormal nail growth. It causes the nail to become very overgrown, often resembling a ram’s horn, as the name suggests. While it can affect any nail of the fingers and toes, it is most commonly seen in big toe. There is no singular…

Pathology Spotlight: A Tibia with Osteomyelitis

In this month’s Pathology Spotlight we take a look at Osteomyelitis.   This specimen is one of the best known in Surgeons’ Hall Museums, where it is featured in its own display case. It is a tibia bone from an Edinburgh-born sailor called Charles Anderson. In 1814, aged 17 years, Anderson was sailing in the Baltic…

Pathology Spotlight: Ovarian Dermoid Cyst

  The specimen is a tumour called a dermoid cyst which was found on an ovary.  It can be seen to contain skin with sebaceous and sweat glands which are normal elements of skin, five well-formed teeth and a few long silky hairs. The mechanism by which germ cells with the capacity to grow into…

Pathology Spotlight- Emphysema

Not all the tissue specimens in the museum collection are in jars. This is a section, about the thickness of a human hair, of a whole human lung mounted dry on paper. This type of section was invented by Professor Jethro Gough and his assistant James E Wentworth in the Welsh School of Medicine in…

Pathology Spotlight- Mycetoma

The above specimen is a vertical section through a foot suffering from  mycetoma, with the toes at the top of the specimen and the heel at the bottom.  Mycetoma is an infection of the skin that has spread into the underlying bones and tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but is most…

Pathology Spotlight: A Historic Black Lung

The specimen shows Coalworker’s Pneumoconiosis or ‘Black Lung’, the scarring lung disease caused by inhaling the dust produced in coalmines. In the 19th century a burgeoning British coal-mining industry supplied fuel for the Industrial Revolution and by the 1830s, around 200,000 British miners were producing 36 million tons of coal per year. It seems obvious…

Pathology Spotlight: Gas Gangrene and Trench Warfare

This specimen comes from a soldier who was injured by a gunshot wound to the left knee in France during August 1917. Much of the trench warfare in France and Flanders during the first world war took place in what had been cultivated fields that would be fertilised with horse manure, meaning that soil would…