Morbid Fact Du Jour for January 25, 2018

Today’s Sticky Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Edwin Smith Papyrus is an ancient Egyptian medical text, named after the dealer who bought it in 1862, and the oldest known surgical treatise on trauma. This document, which may have been a manual of military surgery, describes 48 cases of injuries, fractures, wounds, dislocations and tumors. It dates to Dynasties 16–17 of the Second Intermediate Period in ancient Egypt, c. 1600 BCE 

A snippet of the Edwin Smith Papyrus.

Here is an instruction from the papyrus on caring for a gaping wound of the shoulder:

If thou examinest a man having a gaping wound in his shoulder, its flesh being laid back and its sides separated, while he suffers with swelling in his shoulder blade, thou shouldst palpate his wound. Shouldst thou find its gash separated from its sides in his wound, as a roll of linen is unrolled, and it is painful when he raises his arm on account of it, thou shouldst draw together for him his gash with stitching… Thou shouldst bind it with fresh meat the first day. If thou findest that wound open and its stitching loose, thou shouldst draw together for him its gash with two strips of linen over that gash; thou shouldst treat it afterward with grease, honey and lint every day until he recovers.”

The application of fresh meat is prescribed in sixteen cases in the Edwin Smith Papyrus. This form of dressing still survives as a popular remedy; witness the raw steak treatment for a black eye. In ancient Egyptian practice meat was a preparatory remedy anticipating the application of other dressings such as grease and honey. Honey was often applied alone to a wound; in seventeen of the papyrus cases it was spread upon absorbent lint. 

Culled from: The Early History of Surgery


Malady Du Jour!

Here’s another, particularly grim, wax model image from the 1910 medical textbook Dermochromes – III.

Carcinoma Penis.

In addition to the comparatively benign rodent ulcer there also occur in middle and advanced life more malignant forms of primary carcinoma, which occasionally attack intact epidermis, but more frequently develop upon chronic ulcerative processes such as lupus and late syphilis, or upon keratoses, senile warts, etc. The mucous membrane of the lips and tongue not infrequently is the starting-point of carcinomatous new growths. These generally begin as hard nodules, which break down to form ulcers or undergo transformation into malignant papillomata. The latter form is especially common on the penis. Extremely marked malignancy often manifests itself by uncontrollable extension of the disease, both in area and in depth, by pain, hemorrhage, implication of the corresponding glands, and by progressive chachexia. 

The diagnosis may be grounded on the hardness – especially of the margin – of the nodular growths, on the glandular swellings, and on taking into consideration the age of the patient. If we are dealing with a carcinoma ab initio, the differential diagnosis from syphilis and tuberculosis (especially lupus) must be especially established; the former malady may be eliminated from the diagnosis by the failure of anti-syphilitic treatment, the latter by the absence of reaction to injections of the original tuberculin. In doubtful cases a biopsy is always the best procedure.

The Prognosis is least unfavorable in cases diagnoses very early, but in general it is very unsatisfactory.

The best Treatment is the surgical removal of the parts, cutting wide into the healthy tissues, and at the same time taking away all diseased or suspicious glands. If the situation of the growth does not permit of this radical procedure, or if recurrences take place in the scars, treatment with X-rays yields many good results. Caustics, the sharp spoon, and Paquelin cauterization may certainly cause temporary cicatrization, but almost never accomplish a permanent cure.






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