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.

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…

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…

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…

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…