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…

An Army That Cannot Bite Cannot Fight

In our latest blog, guest author Iain MacLeod takes a look at a British War Office issued dental stoppings (fillings) kit from our collection and tells us why it is so remarkable. Amongst the museum archive collections of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is a small wooden box containing the equipment required to…

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…

A Few Words About Formaldehyde

Our Human Remains Conservator Cat Irving discusses the misconceptions behind the use of formaldehyde and explains why you won’t see much of it in our Collections. Peter Carey’s novel Jack Maggs is set in London in 1837. A Charles Dickens-esque character called Tobias Oates goes into a shop in Whitechapel where he buys what is…

Medical Miscellany

Guest author Iain Macleod, retired consultant and honorary clinical senior lecturer in dental & maxillofacial radiology, tells us more about an object in our Collection that once belonged to his father. In the early 1950’s my late father, Dr Ian R. Macleod, was conscripted into the army as part of “national service”. As a doctor,…

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…

The Veiled Child

Our Human Remains Conservator takes a look at the superstitions surrounding a Baby’s’ Caul.

Miss Frances Ivens and the Scottish Women’s Hospital in France

Our new exhibition looks at the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH), showcasing The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Archival collection and the reflections of two local artists, Susie Wilson and Joan Smith. In addition we have been fortunate to receive a loan of materials once belonging to Miss Frances Ivens a leading figure in the…

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…

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…