Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 019

Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 019

Feeling a bit wound-up…feeling a bit frazzled by Friday? Why not relax and unwind with some medical trivia…

This week we celebrate Australia’s first female Prime Minister and the longest tennis match in history with an exploration of the first female physician, Le Fort fractures, the Kehoe principle and the vestigiality of the human appendix

Question 1

Who was the first female physician in the United States?

  • Dr Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910)
  • Elizabeth Blackwell was the first female doctor in the United States.
  • She was the first openly identified woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in educating women in medicine in the United States, and was prominent in the emerging women’s rights movement.

Dr Elizabeth Blackwell

Question 2

What is the ‘Kehoe principle‘?

  • The erroneous ‘Kehoe Principle’ can be summarised as:

“The absence of evidence of risk = Evidence of the absence of risk.”

  • Robert A. Kehoe, a toxicologist employed by the Ethyl Corporation, exemplified the ‘show me the data‘ mentality in defending the safety of leaded petrol. His stance was based on the rationale that there was no convincing published evidence of harm to humans. Subsequent research led to the complete removal of lead from gasoline in the United States by 1986.


Question 3

Rice water stools are characteristic of what infectious disease and the ingestion of what poison?

  • Infectious Disease: Cholera
  • Poison: Arsenic

Question 4

How did Rene Le Fort develop his classification system for facial fractures?

  • Rene Le Fort described the classic patterns of fracture in his 1901 work where he highlighted three distinct fracture pattern:
    • Le Fort I fracture, the palate is separated from the maxilla
    • Le Fort II fracture, the maxilla separates from the face
    • Le Fort III fracture, craniofacial dysjunction is present
  • There are many stories about how Le Fort conducted his 1901 experiments. The following quotations are from Gartshore (2010):

“Most of us have heard stories about how he conducted his experiments. Some will be disappointed to learn that no cannonballs were involved, and that he did not throw heads off the roof of his apartment building! He was, in fact, meticulous in his methodology.”

“Most of his 35 experiments were done on whole cadavers before decapitation. He used a number of different wounding agents, which included a kick, a metal shaft, a wooden club, and the corner of a marble table. Blows to the head were delivered from different directions and with different intensities to mimic various traumatic conditions. In later experiments he held the head in a vice and applied a compressive force.”

Gartshore L. A brief account of the life of René Le Fort. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2010 Apr;48(3):173-5. Epub 2009 Oct 21. PubMed PMID: 19850380.

Le Fort Classification

Question 5

Which is the only animal an Australian veterinarian might diagnose appendicitis in?

  • The wombat
The appendix is an unusual organ, and is apparently found only in humans, certain apes and the wombat. The similarity between humans and wombats certainly comes as no surprise to our group, as, using quite elaborate, expensive and time-consuming immunohistochemical techniques, we have previously been unable to distinguish between wombats and humans. However, we did note at the time that wombats tended to be hairier and smaller (R W B, unpublished observation)

…and in other news

Longest Ever Tennis Match

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