Amazing face transplant gives firefighter new mug


In 2001, the roof of a flaming building fell on volunteer firefighter Patrick Hardison, burning his firefighting mask onto his head. As a result, Hardison, now 41, has spent more than a decade without a face. Now, Hardison has the face of David Rodebaugh, a 26-year-old who died in a bicycling accident and donated much of his body for transplant. Surgeon Eduardo Rodriguez and a team at the New York University Langone Medical Center performed the facial transplant, "the most extensive" in history according to the hospital.

Hardison also received a new scalp, ears, ear canals, chin and cheek bones, and Rodebaugh's nose. Previously unable to close his eyes totally, he now has eyelids and also muscles for blinking.

New York University paid for the transplant, totaling $850,000 to one million dollars.

"Biography of a Face" (New York Magazine via CNN) Read the rest

The first drawings of neurons

In 1837, Italian physician Camilo Golgi devised a reaction to stain the wispy dendrites and axons of neurons, making it possible to see brain cells in situ. In 1875, he published his first scientific drawing made possibly by his chemical reaction, seen here. It's an illustration of the never fibers, gray matter, and other components of a dog's olfactory bulb. "The First Neuron Drawings, 1870s" (The Scientist) Read the rest

Penis-less man tells of his active sex life

Andrew Wardle suffers from a rare medical condition that prevented him from developing a penis. The 40-year-old man claims that he has been intimate with more than 100 women and most of them never knew he was missing a member.

“I knew my way around a woman’s body, I knew my way around their mind,” Wardle says. “I was very confident in bed of what I could do to them so they wouldn’t come near me and they were finished and I was fine.”

And when that didn't work, he told his partners not to bother because recreational drugs, or kidney disease, made it impossible for him to get an erection at the time.

Wardle is currently undergoing procedures to have a penis constructed from muscle tissue. His story is the subject of a new TV documentary.

(The Independent) Read the rest

Sex probably won't give you a heart attack

"Based on our data, it seems very unlikely that sexual activity is a relevant trigger of heart attack," said Ulm University medical researcher Dr. Dietrich Rothenbache about a new study. From UPI:
In relation to their heart attacks, only 0.7 percent of participants they'd had sex within an hour before their heart attack and more than 78 percent of participants said they hadn't had sex in at least 24 hours before having the heart attack. Based on this, and a total of 100 adverse cardiovascular events among the participants in 10 years of following up with them, researchers said sexual activity does not appear to be a risk factor for heart attack.

Read the rest

Startling animated MRIs of fruits and vegetables

Andy Ellison, an MRI technologist at Boston University Medical School, put fruits and vegetables through the medical scanner and created these remarkable GIFs. Above, tomato. Below, jackfruit, corn, and onion. See many more at Andy's blog: Inside Insides

Read the rest

Video of man singing opera while undergoing brain surgery


Professional singer Ambroz Bajec-Lapajne sang opera during neurosurgery for a brain tumor, at his physicians' request so they could monitor his singing ability and "avoid deficits after the procedure," he writes. Read the rest

Brief history of Quaaludes


Quaaludes, the pills Bill Cosby admitted giving to women so he could have sex with them, are a prescription sedative that took off as a recreational drug during the 1970s disco era. In 1985, commercial production ceased and clandestine synthesis began. Read the rest

Bathe in crude oil at Azerbaijan spa


You can visit a spa in Naftalan, Azerbaijan and relax in a bath of crude oil, a "medicinal treatment" that apparently goes back to the 6th century. Careful though, the oil contains naphthalene, a possible human carcinogen. Read the rest

Unconscious patient recorded medical team insulting the hell out of him

A man who was anesthetized for a colonoscopy in Reston, Virginia was surprised to hear a recording on his smartphone of the anesthesiologist and others on the medical team acting like total assholes and mocking him while he was unconscious. According to the Washington Post, he had hit record before going under "to capture the instructions his doctor would give him after the procedure." In the resulting lawsuit, the jury awarded the fellow $100,000 for defamation, $200,000 for medical malpractice, and $200,000 in punitive damages. From the Washington Post:

“After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op,” the anesthesiologist (Tiffany M. Ingham, 42) told the sedated patient, “I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit,” she was recorded saying.

When a medical assistant noted the man had a rash (on his penis, which he previously mentioned to the Ingham), the anesthesiologist warned her not to touch it, saying she might get “some syphilis on your arm or something,” then added, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.”

When the assistant noted that the man reported getting queasy when watching a needle placed in his arm, the anesthesiologist remarked on the recording, “Well, why are you looking then, retard?”

...The discussion soon turned to the rash on the man’s penis, followed by the comments implying that the man had syphilis or tuberculosis. The doctors then discussed “misleading and avoiding” the man after he awoke, and Shah reportedly told an assistant to convince the man that he had spoken with Shah and “you just don’t remember it.” Ingham suggested Shah receive an urgent “fake page” and said, “I’ve done the fake page before,” the complaint states.

Read the rest

Tech projects vein maps during blood donations

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is testing a technology to project a vein map on the arms of blood donors during the phlebotomy.

"Vein visualisation technology uses near infrared technology to project an image of the vein onto the skin," says Dr. Dan Waller, a senior researcher with the organization. "Veins have a lot of deoxygenated haemoglobin that absorbs near infrared light and the device is able to use this information to project the image. The machines have settings to manage individual differences.

"World-first vein viewing tech trial is... not in vain!" (Australian Red Cross) Read the rest

More in US die from prescription narcotics than car crashes, guns, suicide

More than 100 Americans die each day from prescription drug overdoses, mostly painkillers. That's more daily deaths than from car accidents, gunshot wounds, or suicides. In California, two county District Attorneys are suing five of the biggest drug companies in the world, and the lawsuits include the same kind of arguments once used against big tobacco industry, demanding "public protection."

Warren Olney's "To the Point" radio show has a segment on the topic today:

The companies are accused of a "campaign of deception" to persuade doctors that narcotic painkillers are safer than they really are. But the narcotic painkillers involved have been approved by the FDA. Is a government agency helping create a "population of addicts?" What's the role of physicians who write the prescriptions? Are they ill-informed, poorly trained or trying to make money?
More on the case at advocacy group, and there's a Los Angeles Times writeup here. Read the rest

Man survives chainsaw in the neck (X-ray!)

This X-ray shows the chainsaw that was embedded in the neck of James Valentine, 21, of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, when he arrived at the hospital on Monday. After delicate surgery and just thirty stitches, he's now walking around and talking. Valentine said he was at work cutting trees when the chainsaw "kicked back" into his neck. The chainsaw stopped about 1/4 of an inch from the carotid artery that brings oxygenated blood to the head. His coworkers held the blade in place until medics took over. (CNN) Read the rest

Successful implant of 3D printed skull

Utrecht neurosurgeons 3D-printed a large section of a skull and implanted it in a 22-year-old woman with a bone disorder. According to the University Medical Centre Utrecht, this is the first time such a large implant has been successful without rejection, so far anyway. After three months, the patient is back at work and, according to the surgeon, "it is almost impossible to see that she's ever had surgery." (, thanks Wes Allen!) Read the rest

Medical curiosities in new Harvard Museums exhibit

This beautiful object is a corrosion cast of bronchi and trachea, c. 1880-1890, most likely from a rabbit, sheep, or dog. It's part of the new Body of Knowledge exhibition at the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture.

Corrosion casts have been part of anatomical teaching from the 17th century to the present, particularly for creating display specimens. A rapidly hardening substance, often metal or plastic, is injected into blood spaces or other cavities. Then the tissue is dissolved away by strong acids or bases. This cast was created using a mixture of bismuth, lead, tin, and cadmium. After injection, the tissue was dissolved in potassium hydroxide.
Body of Knowledge: A History of Anatomy (in 3 Parts) Read the rest

Dead man wasn't

Walter Williams, 87, of Lexington, Mississippi was pronounced dead on Wednesday night. The coroner came to his home, did the paperwork, put him in a body bag, and transferred him to a funeral home. But then...

“We got him into the embalming room and we noticed his legs beginning to move, like kicking,” (coroner Dexter) Howard said. “He also began to do a little breathing.”

One possibility is that Williams's defibrillator fired up his heart after it had stopped. In any case, Williams is currently awake and talking in his hospital bed.

‘Dead man’ kicks his way out of body bag at funeral home Read the rest

Man busted for stealing and selling brains from medical museum

David Charles, 21, was arrested for allegedly stealing jars of brain tissue from the Indiana Medical History Museum. Police tracked Charles down after a California fellow purchased the jars for $100 each on eBay. Museum director Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage spoke to the man who bought the brains. "He just said he liked to collect odd things," Nottage said.

"Police: Man stole brains, sold them on eBay" (Indianapolis Star) Read the rest

League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis documentary online

Last night's Frontline documentary about how the National Football League denies and hides overwhelming evidence linking the sport with brain injuries among its players is available for free online. (Trailer above.) The film is based on the book League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth. It was written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN. The documentary was initially a collaboration between ESPN and PBS but back in August, ESPN abruptly pulled its affiliation with the project due to pressure from the NFL, according to the New York Times. In other news, go team!

Frontline: League of Denial ( Read the rest

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