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Arkiv for kategorien ‘Sygdomshistorie’

Transplant Patient Penny Holds Her Heart In Her Hands [da]

mandag den 28. januar 2013


After surviving cancer and and crippling heart failure, Penny is literally holding her heart in her hands. According to her friend Kelsey, this photo was taken before the heart was cremated so Penny could take it home as a souvenir

This is truly an amazing photo: Fifty years ago only hardly any thought a photo like this would pe possible! Hats off to the many doctors and scientists that has made life saving operations like heart transplantations possible.

The first heart transplantation was performed by Christiaan Barnard in South Africa on December 3, 1967. The patient Louis Washkansky survived the operation and lived for 18 days. The prognosis for heart transplant patients has increased since then, and as of June 5, 2009, the survival rates were:

  • 1 year : 88.0% (males), 86.2% (females)
  • 3 years: 79.3% (males), 77.2% (females)
  • 5 years: 73.2% (males), 69.0% (females)

Let’s hope that Penny will have a long and happy life: The prognosis is getting better day for day.

“The procession of the cripples” [da]

fredag den 28. december 2012
The procession of the cripples by Hieronymus Bosch, 1500 (Albertina Museum, Vienna)
The procession of the cripples by Hieronymus Bosch, 1500 (Albertina Museum, Vienna)

In the article “Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516): Paleopathology of the Medieval Disabled and its Relation to the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010” (pdf) by Jan Dequeker, Guy Fabry and Ludo Vanopdenbosch (Isr Med Assoc J. 2001 Nov;3(11):864-71.) you can find what they believe to be most likely diagnosis for each of the persons in the drawing.

Cures against syphilis through history [da]

lørdag den 22. december 2012

From a paleopathological point of view syphilis is a wonderful disease since it is so easy to diagnose from the remaining bones. To the diseased however a much dreaded fate awaited: If the disease did not kill you the cure propably did. From early on mercury was used in an attempt to cure syphilis. This should come as no surprise since the application of the mercury had been used to treat skin conditions from the 1300’s. As early as in 1496 Giorgio Sommariva of Verona is reported to have used mercury against syphilis and in 1502 Jacob Carpensic should have made himself a fortune by using mercury as a treatment against the disease. In 1936 Paracelsus proclaimed that mercury was the only propper cure against syphilis.

The mercury was administered in various fashions, including by mouth, by rubbing it on the skin, and by injection. One of the more curious methods was fumigation, in which the patient was placed in a closed box with his head sticking out. Mercury was placed inside the box and a fire started under the box, causing the mercury to vaporize. It was a grueling process for the patient and the least effective for delivering mercury to the body.

In the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries German candidates for the doctor's degree were made to take an oath that they would under no conditions prescribe mercury for their patients.

In 1905, Fritz Schaudinn and Erich Hoffmann discovered Treponema pallidum, the spiral shaped bacterial cause of syphilis. Researchers now had a target to use in a search for an even more effective therapy. One year later, the first effective test for syphilis, the Wassermann test, was developed.

As the disease became better understood, more effective treatments were found. An antimicrobial used for treating disease was the organo-arsenical drug Arsphenamine, developed in 1908 by Sahachiro Hata in the laboratory of Nobel prize winner Paul Ehrlich. The drug was originally called "606" because it was the sixth in the sixth group of compounds synthesized for testing; it was marketed by Hoechst AG under the trade name Salvarsan in 1910.

In 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered the anti-bacterial qualities of the mold penicillin, and the development of penicillin for use as a medicine is attributed to the Australian Nobel laureate Howard Walter Florey, together with the German Nobel laureate Ernst Chain and the English biochemist Norman Heatley. From the early 1940ies penicillin was mass-porduced and this led to a dramatic drop in the prevalence of syphilis as well as many other previously serious infectious diseases. It was introduced in a time when less than one out of every one hundred syphilis patients ever recovered. Penicillin is still used today to treat syphilis.

Mercurial cream
No. 1: Mercurial cream
Mercurous chloride tablets
No. 2: Mercurous chloride tablets
Salvarsan treatment kit
No. 3: Salvarsan treatment kit
Bottle of Salvarsan
No. 4: Bottle of Salvarsan

Photo No. 1: Mercurial cream used to treat syphilis, England, 1880-1941

Mercury was used as a common treatment for the sexually transmitted disease syphilis. Mercury had been a popular ‘cure’ for syphilis since the 1400s, although we now regard it as too toxic to use. The label reads "Made in accordance with the most recent formula as used by Col[onel] Lambkin, R.A.M.C." The R.A.M.C. stands for the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1891 almost seven per cent of all medical discharges from the army were caused by venereal diseases and their effects. Venereal disease affected the health of soldiers who needed to be in top condition to face the enemy. Colonel Lambkin researched widely on syphilis and other STIs such as gonorrhoea, both in Britain and in the colonies of the British Empire.

Photo No. 2: Packet of mercurous chloride tablets, Kassel, Germany, 1914-1917

Mercurous chloride (HgCl) is also known as calomel. It was a popular drug from the 1800s onwards as it contained mercury, a chemical that was claimed to cure many illnesses. However, it slowly poisoned those who used it because mercury is toxic. Many of those taking such a drug would have been experiencing a venereal disease (VD) - probably syphilis. Calomel was used as an antiseptic and laxative during the First World War, but given the high rates of VD in the military it clearly proved useful in that context too. The packet contains calomel in tablet form to be taken orally. This packet was supplied by the 11th Army Corps of the German Army to its medical personnel and soldiers.

Photo No. 3: Salvarsan treatment kit for syphilis, Germany, 1909-1912

Salvarsan was a synthetic drug produced to treat the STI syphilis. The drug was developed by Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), a German medical scientist, and his team in 1909 after three years of research. Ehrlich coined the phrase ‘magic bullet’ to describe this new wonder drug. The diluted yellow Salvarsan treatment was difficult and painful to inject and it did not cure syphilis overnight. As it was an arsenic based compound, it was also toxic. Salvarsan would later be replaced by antibiotics such as penicillin. The drug in the kit was made by a German manufacturer Farbwerke vorm Meister Lucius & Bruning AG and is stamped with the date "3 February 1912". It was sold by a British chemist, W Martindale, who added all the equipment to prepare injections.

Photo No. 4: Bottle of Salvarsan treatment for syphilis, London, England, 1909-1914

Salvarsan was a synthetic drug produced to treat the STI syphilis. The drug was developed by Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), a German medical scientist and his team in 1909 after three years of research. German manufacturers had the monopoly on producing this wonder drug. With the outbreak of the First World War, British companies had to develop manufacturing techniques to supply the demand for Salvarsan. The only company with the capability to do so was Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. They produced Salvarsan under the brand name ‘Kharsivan’ from 1914 onwards.

Image source: sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/


lørdag den 3. november 2012

This poster, issued in 1926 by the National French League against the Danger of Venereal Disease, neatly encapsulates the perceived risks associated with three diseases in the 1920s. Death watches a three-horse race, in which Tuberculosis (150,000 deaths per year) narrowly beats Syphilis (140,000 deaths per year), while Cancer causes only 40,000 deaths.

Source: www.nlm.nih.gov/iconographyofcontagion/gallery.html

Mike Jay on John Snow and the cholera outbreak of 1854 [en]

fredag den 2. november 2012

Source: http://www.youtube.com/

Bilateral goundou on a skeleton of an adolescent [da]

søndag den 7. oktober 2012

Yaws is almost wiped out as a disease. It is related to syphilis and is caused by a spirochete bacterium, Treponema pallidum pertenue. The development of antibiotics blew out the disease in the developed world and is today only found in humid tropical regions in South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Goundou is a condition following an infection with yaws in which the nasal processes of the upper jaw bone thicken to form two large bony swellings, about 7 cm in diameter, on either side of the nose. The swellings not only obstruct the nostrils but also interfere with the field of vision. Initial symptoms include persistent headache and a bloody purulent discharge from the nose.

Early cases can be treated with injections of penicillin; otherwise surgical removal of the growths is necessary.

Bilateral goundou on a skeleton of an adolescent
Bilateral goundou on a skeleton of an adolescent

Left image, the upper jaw and mandible are deformed by an osteoperiostitis but the rest of the skull is intact.

Right image, the round excrescences caused a major reduction of the visual field and nasal aperture.


“For one pleasure a thousand pains” [da]

lørdag den 29. september 2012

A syphilitic sits in a fumigation stove, his head only visible, an attendent is just pulling in some fresh fuel, while another heats a towel in front of the fireplace.

Illustration of a Syphilitic Man in Fumigation Stove
Illustration of a Syphilitic Man in Fumigation Stove

Engraving by Jacques Laniet Receuill des Plus. Illustrates proverbs (Paris, 1659-1663).

A victim of Dr. Walter Freeman’s lobotomy lunacy [da]

fredag den 28. september 2012

Via ramirezbundydahmer:

At the age of 12, Howard Dully was subjected to the unnecessary procedure of a lobotomy, thanks in part to his stepmother, who couldn’t handle a normal pre-teen boy. Dr. Walter Freeman claimed that Howard had childhood schizophrenia, when other doctors that have seen him never came to that diagnosis. It has taken Howard decades to recover from the surgery. He lived his life in institutions, he was incarcerated, homeless and even an alcoholic. He finally sobered up and got a college degree. He has since researched what happened to him and has even written his memoirs, with the help of Charles Flemming. He is now a talk show host on National Public Radio, where he speaks to other lobotomy victims.

The Iron Lung [da]

fredag den 28. september 2012

A negative pressure ventilator (often referred to colloquially as an iron lung) is a form of medical ventilator that enables a person to breathe when normal muscle control has been lost or the work of breathing exceeds the person's ability. It has been almost entirely superseded by Positive pressure ventilation intubation.

At the height of the polio outbreaks of the 1940s and 1950s iron lungs filled the hospital wards until they were superseded by positive pressure ventilators that works by blowing air into the patient's lungs via intubation through the airway. Positive pressure ventilators were used for the first time in Blegdams Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark during a polio outbreak in 1952 where it proved a major success and soon superseded the iron lung throughout Europe.

A technician calibrating an iron lung machine
A technician calibrating an iron lung machine

Via articulomortis:

This historic photograph shows a technician calibrating an iron lung machine. These machines were used to keep polio patients alive, enabling them to breathe by creating a negatively-pressurized environment around their bodies after having been sealed inside the machine, with only their head exterior to the confines of the apparatus.

Couple undergoing syphilis cure, early 16th century [da]

fredag den 28. september 2012

Image depicts doctors examining patient’s urine to evaluate her health (upper right corner) and applying mercury-based salve to syphilitic pox (lower middle).

Source: Elizabeth Twist