• The 20 Minute Surgery that Cured a Prince’s Deafness

    In 1923, the New York Times and Time Magazine reported that King Alfonso of Spain summoned a famous New York osteopath to treat his fifteen-year-old son, Infante Don Jaime (1908-1975). Deaf and mute following a severe case of mastoiditis (middle-ear infection) and possibly tuberculosis at a young age, Don Jaime was adjudged “incurable” by Spanish… Continue Reading

  • Can Vitamin B Cure Deafness?

    In 1934, a surgeon examined the medical histories and nutrition diaries of his deaf patients. He soon noticed that most of his patients ate very little food containing vitamin B, which was essential for heathy nerves. He then pondered: could cases of nerve deafness be cured simply by adding more vitamin B to a diet?… Continue Reading

  • Surgeons & Surgical Kits

    There’s always a scene in any movie or television show depicting a surgical operation: a nurse or assistant clad in scrubs, enters the room pushing a cart. On the cart lies several delicate instruments, their hard steel glistening under the harsh lights of the theatre. None of the instruments touch each other, and they are… Continue Reading

  • The Artificial Tympanum

    Perforation of the eardrum (tympanic membrane or tympanum) is a very common injury to the ear, often resulting from ear infection, trauma (damn those Q-tips!), loud noise, or blockages in the Eustachian tubes. Most cases the damage is minor and the drum heals quickly on its own, but other cases bring about hearing loss, and… Continue Reading

  • Medieval Surgery: Abulcasis

    I was watching World Without End and came across this scene in which a female medical practitioner explains the value and beauty of a surgical textbook she purchased: I don’t recognize the book–does anyone know what it is? On the left page, there’s a man fighting Death. The right page is the Zodiac Man, an explanation… Continue Reading

  • Monday Series: Inquest into a Surgical Procedure IV

    As per guidelines for coroner’s inquests, the jury was to view the body and judge their verdict on their observations as well as on the witness depositions and postmortem report. This raises specific questions about the value of medical witnessing, which Thomas Wakley argued was essential for a proper investigation. Yet the cause of death… Continue Reading

  • A Brief History of the Eustachian Tube

    The Eustachian tube is a passageway that lies between the middle ear and the pharynx, the upper part of the mouth located just below the top of the nose. One of the primary functions of the tube is to equalize ear pressure between the middle ear and the atmosphere; most of the time the tube… Continue Reading