Thursday, November 22, 2012

Staying Abreast

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the world's first silicon breast augmentation.

For almost a hundred years doctors, and patients, had been experimenting with various ways to change the size and shape of breasts.  The first recorded case of a breast implant in the literature was undertaken by a German surgeon named Vincenz Czerny, who transplanted a benign fat tumour (known as a lipoma) to reduce asymmetry after removing a tumour from a woman's breast.  Since that time various methods of using the patient's own tissue have been tried, mainly at the time of surgery to effect a reconstruction. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jay's Jutting Jaw

Jay Leno’s distinctively large chin has been something of a trademark for the comedian. The title of his 1996 autobiography is ‘Leading with my Chin’.   However you may be surprised to learn that the Tonight show host’s distinctively large mandible is most likely the result of an inherited genetic condition.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Obstetrics and WWI

As we come to the end of Remembrance Day for another year, I found myself reflecting on a medical history story that directly relates to the onset of WWI.  

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves which supplies the arm and hand.  They run from the spinal cord and through the neck into the arm.  As a result they are unfortunately susceptible to trauma during the birth process.  Particularly this can occur during an obstetric emergency where a baby's head becomes trapped during birth, either from the shoulders being wedged under the mother's pubic bone or an obstructed breech (feet first) birth. The subsequent mechanical manipulation required to free the baby is the usual cause. However when certain death is the alternative - sometimes a brachial plexus palsy is the lesser of two traumas.

Unfortunately, Kaiser Wilhelm did not see it this way.