The Dispute That Rocked 19th Century Medicine

In this new blog post, our Senior Research Fellow, Ken Donaldson, discusses the dispute that rocked 19th century Edinburgh medicine.   Fallouts over scientific theories are nothing new. The first great clash was in the 17th century when Galileo argued that the sun was at the centre of our universe. His opponent was the Pope,…

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…

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…

Burchell’s Famous Sugar Plumbs for Worms

In this latest post, Dr. Iain Macleod looks at one of the more unusual items in our collections. Surgeons’ Hall Museums holds many fascinating objects, but few can be stranger than a collection of nine 18th Century tokens or medals. These were produced by Basil Burchell, (1765-1838), dealer in patent medicines, later a jeweller and…

Pathology Spotlight: Advanced neurological syphilis and the Tuskegee study

In July’s Pathology Spotlight, Ken Donaldson, Senior Museum Research Fellow, takes a look at a specimen showing neurological syphilis. He also discusses the highly unethical Tuskegee Study.   This specimen is of the dura mater, the outside covering of the brain. Normally this is a thin membrane as visible at the top and bottom of…

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: 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…

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,…