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…

Bacteriophage- the answer to Antibiotic Armageddon?  

Ken Donaldson, Senior Research Fellow at Surgeons’ Hall Museums, tells us why we are facing an “Antibiotic Armageddon” and how Bacteriophages could be the solution to this catastrophic problem.   Most people will have heard about the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, sometimes called ‘Antibiotic Armageddon’. This refers to the fact that some common infectious…

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…

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: 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…

The Veiled Child

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

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…