Bylines

How Ether Transformed Surgery from a Race against the Clock

Before anesthesia, surgeons battled patient agony during each procedure. But another foe awaited them next: postoperative infection… Read More

The Unsung Pioneer of Handwashing

In 19th-century Vienna, Ignaz Semmelweis fought to convince his fellow doctors that washing their hands could save patients’ livesRead More

Crime-Scene Photos Are Lizzie Borden’s Legacy

An infamous 1890s murder trial helped make photography a standard part of detective work… Read More

An appointment at the house of death: the horror of the early Victorian hospital

Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris describes the horrors of the early Victorian hospital, where lice and lethal infections flourished, the air was filled with the smell of vomit and rotting flesh, and all too few of those who went under the surgeon’s knife lived to tell the tale… Read More

'The Butchering Art': How A 19th Century Physician Made Surgery Safer

Holy items – such as the fragment of Becket’s bone returned to England – attract thousands. But ‘secular relics’ carry as much weight for the devotees of science and the arts… Read More

Britain’s teeth aren’t that bad - but what do you know of their rotten history?

Our dentistry has long been a target for American wits. But at least we never had a leader with only one of his own teeth left… Read More

Bloodletting: Return of a radical remedy

It was unsanitary and dangerous, but for centuries bloodletting was standard practice. Could it now be used to relieve some of the complications of obesity?… Read More

'A grimy operating theatre; a patient who is fully awake. Imagine the terror of that situation': Lindsey Fitzharris on life, death and surgery in the 19th century

SO far, Lindsey Fitzharris tells me, two people have fainted during her book tour. Actually, one of them, a man, keeled over twice… Listen Now

A brief history of ventilation

From the first documented case of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in 1732, through the 20th century’s polio epidemic, to coronavirus patients today. Find out how developments in breathing support have been driven by the doctors encountering victims of smoke inhalation, near-drowning, and debilitating viruses… Read More