Challenging medical trivia to tickle your cerebellar tonsils and whimsy your way to cerebral hibernation for the weekend
- Acetaminophen, tylenol and paracetamol are different names for the same drug. How are these names derived?
- They are all derived from the chemical name N-acetyl-para-aminophenol (as is the commonly used abbreviation APAP):
- What was the intended purpose of this macabre piece of equipment?
- Tonsil Guillotine
- A tonsil guillotine is used to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy), popular in the late 1800s
- This method of removing tonsils worked much like a traditional guillotine, slicing off the enlarged tonsils. The “double guillotine” design meant that both tonsils could be removed at the same time.
- Tonsil guillotines were replaced by forceps and scalpels in the early 20th century due to the high rate of hemorrhaging and the imprecise nature of the device, which often left tonsil remnants in the mouth
- The tonsil guillotine was designed by Robert and Collin, students of the famous surgical instrument maker Joseph-Frédéric Benoît Charrière (1803-1876). They purchased the business in 1866 after Charrière’s son, who had owned it from his father’s retirement in 1852, died.
- What is a toponymous disease? Can you give some examples?
- Diseases that are named after places [from the Greek words topos “place” and onoma “name”]
- Hendra, Ross River, Bairnsdale, Murray Valley and Barmah Forest are all examples of Australian places that have had diseases named after them.
- They all have unique and interesting stories that provide a glimpse into their discovery, history and culture. [Read more about toponymous diseases at the eMJA]
In September 1994, an outbreak of a lethal, previously unknown virus killed 13 horses associated with a stable in Hendra. The suburb of Hendra in Brisbane is intimately associated with the history of horseracing in Queensland. Two humans became infected, and one of them died of the disease.
The causative virus was initially named “equine morbillivirus” but subsequently named “Hendra virus”. It was the first designated member of a new genus, Henipavirus, of the family Paramyxoviridae.
- What disease did Abraham Lincoln suffer from?
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B
- Abraham Lincoln is most commonly thought to have suffered from Marfan’s syndrome, and descriptions delineate many of the physicial features of that condition.
- However, according to a 2007 theory described in The Physical Lincoln, by Dr. John Sotos evidence suggests that Lincoln and four members of his family had a rare genetic cancer syndrome called MEN2B with skeletal features almost identical to Marfan syndrome
From more than 300 sources, the Sourcebook portion reprints 5900 physical and mental observations about Lincoln and his family members. Each observation is fully referenced, and organized to resemble a modern medical record.
In addition, family trees show Lincoln’s ancestors and descendants. Nine “Special Topics” thoroughly explore major Lincolnian health issues, including his bout with smallpox, his gait, his shooting, and the possibility that he had syphilis. And, for the first time, Mary Lincoln’s puzzling litany of physical symptoms is tabulated.
- What is the Pareto Principle?
- Also known as the 80:20 rule, the Pareto Principle is an illustration of a power law relationship that bascially states that 80% of the effects relate to 20% of the causes.
- For instance, 80% of the crime in the US is thought to be due to 20% of the criminals.
- Similarly 80% of health care costs are due to 20% of the population.
- Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who noted in 1906 that 80% of Italian property was owned by 20% of the people – and that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of the pods.
- However, Paul Krugman in The New York Times dismissed this “80-20 fallacy” as being cited “not because it’s true, but because it’s comforting.” He notes that the benefits of economic growth over the last 30 years have largely been concentrated in the top 1%, rather than the top 20%. [Reference: Paul Krugman February 27, 2006 "Graduates versus Oligarchs". New York Times: pp. A19.]
…and remember kids…you can be like Walter too…