Pathology Spotlight: Tapeworms

In this Pathology Spotlight our Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving, tell us all about tapeworms- from how they contaminate humans to their use in ‘diet pills’ in the early twentieth century.

Corrective Surgery

In this latest blog, our Human Remains Conservator discusses the skull and death mask of Burke and Hare’s accomplice, John Brogan, and how pioneering surgery carried out by Thomas Mütter could have helped with a childhood injury. The story of Burke and Hare is well known. In 1828 the pair murdered at least 16 people…

Pathology Spotlight: Acute pulmonary oedema caused by poison Gas in WWI.

In September’s Pathology Spotlight, the Museums Senior Research Fellow, Ken Donaldson, looks at acute pulmonary oedema caused by poison Gas in WWI. This is a lung taken at post mortem from a British WWI soldier who was gassed with dichlorethyl sulphide, also known as sulphur mustard gas, in France on the 22nd July 1917. His…

Surgeons’ Hall Step Into The Future

We’ve told you about the history of surgery. Now it’s time to take a step into the future. Surgeons’ Hall Museums are delighted to announce two new galleries which are set to open in the autumn of 2020. The new galleries are the second phase of the museum redevelopment, with phase one being completed in…

Pathology Spotlight- Kyphosis and Pott’s Disease

In the latest Pathology Spotlight blog, our Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving, takes a look at Kyphosis and Pott’s Disease. The human vertebral column, or spine, naturally forms a series of curves, which facilitate our posture and balance as upright animals. At the neck (the cervical spine) and lower back (the lumbar spine) the curve…

Syme’s Amputation

In this latest blog our Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving, takes a look at James Syme and how his pioneering technique helped shape the surgical world. James Syme (1799-1870) was one of the leading surgeons of his day, whom it was said “He never unnecessarily wasted a word, drop of ink or blood.” Active during the…

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…

Lister’s Kneecap

Our Human Remains Conservator tells us about a knee cap with a connection to Joseph Lister. I recently came across a patella in our collection which has been cut in half vertically to show a healed fracture that crosses the bone transversely. On both sides of the knee, wire can be seen passing through holes…

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: 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…

William Burke and the Edinburgh Irish; Sympathy for the Devil

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Archives  holds the memoirs of Edinburgh University student Thomas Hume. In his memoirs, Hume discusses the execution and dissection of William Burke, both of which he was witness to. In this latest blog, our Senior Museum Research Fellow Ken Donaldson explores the sympathy felt for Burke by some witnesses…