Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine

Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine


Warren describes a case of epilepsy of seven months' standing, from depression of the skull caused by a red hot poker thrown at the subject's head. Striking the frontal bone just above the orbit, it entered three inches into the cerebral substance.

Kesteven reports the history of a boy of thirteen who, while holding a fork in his hand, fell from the top of a load of straw.

One of the prongs entered the head one inch behind and on a line with the lobe of the left ear and passed upward and slightly backward to almost its entire length. With some difficulty it was withdrawn by a fellow workman; the point was bent on itself to the extent of two inches. The patient lived nine days. Abel and Colman have reported a case of puncture of the brain with loss of memory, of which the following extract is an epitome: "Arailway-fireman, thirty-six years old, while carrying an oil-feeder in his hand, slipped and fell forward, the spout of the can being driven forcibly into his face. There was transitory loss of consciousness, followed by twitching and jerking movements of the limbs, most marked on the left side, the legs being drawn up and the body bent forward. There was no hemorrhage from mouth, nose, or ears. The metallic spout of the oil-can was firmly fixed in the base of the skull, and was only removed from the grasp of the bone by firm traction with forceps. It had passed upward and toward the middle line, with its concavity directed from the middle line. Its end was firmly plugged by bone from the base of the skull. No hemorrhage followed its removal.

The wound was cleansed and a simple iodoform-dressing applied.

The violent jerking movements were replaced by a few occasional twitchings. It was now found that the left side of the face and the left arm were paralyzed, with inability to close the left eye completely. The man became drowsy and confused, and was unable to give replies to any but the simplest questions. The temperature rose to 102 degrees; the pupils became contracted, the right in a greater degree than the left; both reacted to light. The left leg began to lose power. There was complete anesthesia of the right eyebrow and of both eyelids and of the right cheek for an uncertain distance below the lower eyelid. The conjunctiva of the right eye became congested, and a small ulcer formed on the right cornea, which healed without much trouble. In the course of a few days power began to return, first in the left leg and afterward, though to a much less extent, in the left arm. For two weeks there was drowsiness, and the man slept considerably. He was apathetic, and for many days passed urine in bed. He could not recognize his wife or old comrades, and had also difficulty in recognizing common objects and their uses. The most remarkable feature was the loss of all memory of his life for twenty years before the accident. As time went on, the period included in this loss of memory was reduced to five years preceding the accident.

The hemiplegia persisted, although the man was able to get about.

Sensibility was lost to all forms of stimuli in the right upper eyelid, forehead, and anterior part of the scalp, corresponding with the distribution of the supraorbital and nasal nerves. The cornea was completely anesthetic, and the right cheek, an inch and a half external to the angle of the nose, presented a small patch of anesthesia. There was undue emotional mobility, the patient laughing or crying on slight provocation. The condition of mind-blindness remained. It is believed that the spout of the oil-can must have passed under the zygoma to the base of the skull, perforating the great wing of the spheroid bone and penetrating the centrum ovale, injuring the anterior fibers of the motor tract in the internal capsule near the genu."Figures 192 and 193 show the outline and probable course of the spout.

Beaumont reports the history of an injury in a man of forty-five, who, standing but 12 yards away, was struck in the orbit by a rocket, which penetrated through the spheroidal fissure into the middle and posterior lobes of the left hemisphere. He did not fall at the time he was struck, and fifteen minutes after the stick was removed he arose without help and walked away.

Apparently no extensive cerebral lesion had been caused, and the man suffered no subsequent cerebral symptoms except, three years afterward, impairment of memory.

There is an account given by Chelius of an extraordinary wound caused by a ramrod. The rod was accidentally discharged while being employed in loading, and struck a person a few paces away.

It entered the head near the root of the zygomatic arch, about a finger's breadth from the outer corner of the right eye, passed through the head, emerging at the posterior superior angle of the parietal bone, a finger's breadth from the sagittal suture, and about the same distance above the superior angle of the occipital bone. The wounded man attempted to pull the ramrod out, but all his efforts were ineffectual. After the tolerance of this foreign body for some time, one of his companions managed to extract it, and when it was brought out it was as straight as the day it left the maker's shop. Little blood was lost, and the wound healed rapidly and completely; in spite of this major injury the patient recovered.