Monday, June 30, 2008

When robots operate

I thought this was interesting. For the moment, we have a prototype robotic surgical assistant on the gallery floor: learn more about Penelope right here.

The invasion of the surgeon robots. - By Kent Sepkowitz - Slate Magazine: "There is one realm, however, in which robots really are joining the gang: the operating room. It turns out that Americans love to be operated upon by them. Last year, robots participated in thousands of surgeries, and the years ahead promise even more choices. Cancer surgery, heart surgery, brain surgery, you name it—R2-D2 awaits your call. The robots even have their own medical journal (OK, it's run by the humans who operate the robots, but egad!)."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Eakins' The Gross Clinic

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will bring back The Gross Clinic this summer. According to the latest newsletter, it is "described by some as the most important painting by any nineteenth-century American artist." It will be exhibited in gallery 119 from August 2 until February 2009. Read more about the painting itself, including how it was nearly lost to Philadelphia, at wikipedia.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Here's a mannequin from the History of Medicine Museum in Paris that I think is pretty neat. If I read the French correctly, the label says it shows acupuncture points. The other picture is a close-up of some cards that are in the case with the mannequin.

For those of you without personal acupuncture experience and perhaps doubt that it really can work, let me tell you it does. My husband always said he'd quit smoking when cigarettes hit $1 a pack. Of course, this was a very long time ago, and also of course, easier said than done. But he heard about a doctor in Austin or Houston, I don't remember now, who performed acupuncture and for $50 decided to give the guy a try. The doctor put one little staple-looking thing in Bob's ear, in that ridge of cartilage, put a piece of tape over it, and told him to leave it until it fell out. About a week later it did, but from the time the staple went in, Bob never smoked again. He said the cravings came and went in a flash, more quickly than he even had time to think about them, and gradually faded away. Amazing, isn't it? I'm a believer.

Rhode hasn't been here cracking the whip

and so postings to this blog have gotten pretty slack. But he's back now and trying to make us all feel guilty. It's working.

Well, as I promised, or warned, depending how you want to look at it, here are a couple of pictures of kidney stone removal tools. (I wish they were a little sharper, but you do what you can with what you have. In this case, the camera was hand-held.) If these don't make you get your 128 ounces of water every day, I don't know what will.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Awesomeness must not be misquoted or paraphrased:

Human egg makes accidental debut on camera: "Look closely: this is history in the making. These are the clearest pictures ever taken of what is the starting point of every human life: ovulation occurring inside a woman's body."

Human ovulation captured on film: "Following the publication last week of the best ever photos of the ovulation of a human egg, we now go, Fantastic Voyage-like, to the first video footage of the moment itself."

Thanks to New Scientist for bringing this to us.

Mememto Mori, or, The Head of Janus

I made a rewarding visit to the Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine in Paris last month, but thoroughly grossing out my husband with its extensive exhibits of surgical tools, including kidney stone extractors. Not something that a man who has had a kidney stone especially wants to look at. I've not had kidney stones, and I found the tools and illustrations painful to look at, and I've seen some pretty gross things in the course of my job. Do you want to see them? Next time.

I really liked this ivory carving from the 17th century, called the Head of Janus. I don't know if the Catholic school I went to didn't teach mythology as a matter of theology or what, but I never learned about the myths. So wikipedia to the rescue: "Janus was usually depicted with two heads (not faces) looking in opposite directions, and was frequently used to symbolize change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, the growing up of young people, and of one universe to another. He was also known as the figure representing time because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other."

There's nothing that says transition from one condition to another like a face on one side and a skull on the other.

Telemedicine, literally reports on a new strategy to get TB patients to take their medicine: free cell phone minutes.

While human interaction is still necessary because self-reporting isn't always reliable, allowing patients to text-message results from their urine tests - and get free minutes as a reward - apparently gets better participation during the six-month regimen.

Companion Animals for Stress Response - program at Walter Reed

This came in via email today, but before you get to it, let me introduce you to a companion animal I met one day at lunch, Georgia the assistance dog ---->:

Her "uncle," the brother of the patient who Georgia assists, let me take several pictures of her while she was out for some exercise. She's a beauty and full of energy. I think it was very hard for her to lie still for 30 seconds.

Now, back to our sponsor:

Dear Friends of CAMP PTSD,

Please join us for our next program, Benefits of Companion Animals for
Stress Response on Thursday June 26, 2008 at 4:30pm - 6pm at the Joel
Auditorium at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Our presenters are:

* Kevin Simpson, Director of Animal Behavior and Training at the
Washington Humane Society, and
* Joan Esnayra, Phd, Founder of the Psychiatric Dog Service

Please forward this message to anyone you know who may be interested in
this fascinating program.

To RSVP, contact Elsyse Greenberg at

Hope to see you there!

Robin Carnes, Chair
Complementary and Adjunctive Medicine Practitioners PTSD Study Group at
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
CAMP PTSD Study Group

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Day in the Life...

I meant to write these more often, but somehow the life keeps staying busy.

Here's one from a few weeks ago. We're part of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (see the sidebar history) and their Radiology Department had a lead on some personal papers they were interested in. The American College of Radiology has stored their records with the History Factory in Chantilly, VA, and in their collection they had personal papers of Dr. William Thompson. Thompson was instrumental in setting up the large radiology program at AFIP. The ACR was willing to hand over this series of records to AFIP since it didn't really relate to their core holdings. I tend to wear a dual hat as AFIP's archivist as well as the Museum's so I was on the job.

Poaching from other archives never thrills me, although at times it makes sense. Years ago, we returned photographs of unidentified corpses that we had received from the NY Medical Examiner to the NY Municipal Archives to reunite them with the paper records of the cases. I was fine with that, but there have been plenty of times when people come in to do research and say "wouldn't this be better if it was in..."

Anyway, two people from the radiology dept., and 3 museum staffers took a van from Walter Reed while I drove myself from home. I beat them by about an hour so I hung around with the archivist there. He showed me the collection - it was pretty straightforward personal papers including diaries, some awards and some photographs, both personal and professional. I've seen dozens like it, and at 3 linear feet, it wasn't large. So we talked shop and then when everyone else arrived, they looked at the records. The radiologists were particularly interested as one doesn't see fifty-year old diaries every day, I suppose. We took a quick look in the stacks at the rest of the ACR collection - most archives look alike especially in the 'bulk' storage areas - and I've got to say that they have a nice set of advertising trade literature if you're doing anything on radiology's history. We also looked at the 3-D artifacts because there was some confusion in our party if we were supposed to be checking on them as well.

After signing the paperwork transferring it to us, we headed back to AFIP. Lauren Clark, who's volunteering as an intern this summer, has processed the collection and written a finding aid to it, which should make it onto our regular website soon. There's nothing deeply interesting or dramatic in Thompson's papers, but they help round out the history of radiology at AFIP.

Two more links for you, if you can handle the excitement

  • Morbid Anatomy - where you can find the awesome with each post - offers a snippet about a cool "20th century facial prosthetic" someone "found at an estate sale." I never find anything like that at estate sales.

Three words: "Belly button escargot"

Without further comment, I offer this link: "Tales from Saint Boonie's: Gross, and I mean GROSS, Anatomy."

He had me at "I apologize in advance..."

If you look carefully, you'll see something familiar to this blog's readers and our visitors. Once you spot it, leave your answer in comments. First person (not on the staff or former staff!) to guess correctly gets the best reward of all: my sincere gratitude for reading all the way through this post.

All the good headlines were taken

I had seen this previously, but after seeing more links to gummi bear anatomy today, I figured I'd better post it here, too. Besides, we're the ones who spent some quality time looking for radiographs of a gummi bear bezoar. Come on, admit it, now you want to know more, right?

And yes, I am probably giving away a slice of my blog reading habits by linking to those two blogs above, but for gummi bear anatomy, it's worth it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Our West Coast Connection

Our recently-departed public affairs specialist Nicole M. has landed out west - in San Francisco, California. We heard from her today, that she's settling in at the San Francisco Airport Museums. No, I hadn't heard of it either (but some people haven't heard of us either) but take a look for yourself, and next time you are passing through SFO, pause for a moment to enjoy the view. And, hi, Nicole, stay in touch and good luck.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Upcoming lunchtime lectures this month at NMHM

SAVE THE DATES: Two exciting lunchtime lectures at the National Museum
of Health and Medicine this month!

On Thursday, June 19 at noon, AFIP pathologist Wayne Meyers, M.D. will
discuss the history of leprosy in America.

Then, on Thursday, June 26 at noon, James L. Krahenbuhl, Ph.D., director
of the federal National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program will offer a
talk about the need for a greater awareness about leprosy in the U.S.

Both lectures are free and will take place in Russell Auditorium at
NMHM. After the talks, take advantage of the opportunity to visit our
temporary exhibition, "Triumph at Carville: A Tale of Leprosy in

Here are the details:

What: Lecture by pathologist Wayne M. Meyers, M.D., Ph.D., Armed Forces
Institute of Pathology
When: Thursday, June 19, 2008; 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Russell Auditorium at NMHM (on Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Building 54)
Cost: Free! Bring a bag lunch.

What: Learn the 113-year history of the "national leprosarium" and the
need for an awareness of leprosy in the U.S. medical community, with
James L. Krahenbuhl, Ph.D., director of the federal National Hansen's
Disease (Leprosy) Program
When: Thursday, June 26, 2008; 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Russell Auditorium at NMHM (on Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Building 54)
Cost: Free! Bring a bag lunch.

Museum Address: 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, Building 54, Washington, DC,
20307. (Photo identification required.) Free parking is available.

Contact: (202) 782-2200 or

Army School of Nursing Annuals now on Internet Archive

Kathleen got the rest of them up over the past two days:

The Annual


Monday, June 9, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yet another new Flickr page

While we're waitingwaitingwaiting for Flickr to grant us a Creative Commons account, we've filled our third account and have started a fourth. Please take a look - the five pictures now residing there are feeling a little lonely.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cool Flickr site

Virginia Commonwealth University's Tompkins-McCaw Library Special Collections' photostream - a mixture of photographs, artifacts and scans from books. They linked to one of our flickr sites last week. I liked the editorial cartoons, but the photographs of medical school dissections probably get more viewers.

Free Health Fair at the National Museum of Health and Medicine!

Free Health Fair at the National Museum of Health and Medicine!

Saturday, June 7, 2008 -- 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Tell your friends! Tell your family! Children's activities, too!
Explore the Museum and take advantage of free health screenings!

Screenings for health indicators: cholesterol, glaucoma, blood sugar, vision, blood pressure, hearing, body mass index

Children's activities, too! Including hands-on experiences with plastinated organs, dolls and mannequins!

Participants: Columbia Heights Lions Club, D.C. Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, D.C. Healthy Families, Food and Friends, Health Pact, Inc., Men's Health Network, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Northern Virginia, and Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington

WHERE: National Museum of Health and Medicine, on the campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20307. (Enter at Georgia Ave. and Elder Street, NW.) (Photo identification required.) NMHM is in Bldg. 54.

WHEN: Saturday, June 7, 2008, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

CONTACT: On the Web or call (202) 782-2200.

NOTE: Free parking, free admission! No reservations required.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Today I went to the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. It's terrific, with a lot of interactive exhibits (care to lift a pack that a recruit has to carry (that's the pack there, on the right), or listen to drill instructors screaming at you from every direction?) and lifelike combat scenes. Here's one of a Marine being cared for by a corpsman. I thought the look on the wounded Marine's face was perfectly portrayed. What I liked about this one, in addition to the face, is that we have photos just like this in our collection, right down
to the IV bottle suspended from a rifle stuck in the ground bayonet first (just out of view here but you can see the line being inserted in his arm). It's a great museum with free admission, both indoor and outdoor exhibit space, and is open 364 days a year. If you're in the neighborhood, I recommend a visit.