Posts tagged: J. Collins Warren

Warren and Bigelow artifacts loaned to MGH’s Russell Museum

By , April 9, 2013

Urinary calculus crushed and evacuated by Henry Jacob Bigelow, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine (09101.020)

The Center for the History of Medicine has loaned two artifacts to the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation for exhibits on surgeons John Collins Warren (1842-1927) and Henry Jacob Bigelow (1818-1890). The exhibition opened on April 4th and runs until July 31st. The artifacts are displayed in a case on the first floor lobby of the Hospital’s Lunder Building.

From the Warren Anatomical Museum the Center loaned a urinary calculus that Henry Jacob Bigelow removed from a Massachusetts General Hospital patient in 1882. Bigelow crushed the calculus with a lithotrite and flushed the fragments with an evacuator using a technique he innovated and published in his 1878 Litholapaxy; or, Rapid lithotrity with evacuation. The loaned artifact [WAM 09101.020] is one of fifty examples of crushed calculi that Bigelow donated to the Warren Museum.

From the Harvard Medical Library collection, the Center for the History of Medicine loaned six Codman & Shurtleff tumor dissectors developed by Massachusetts General Hospital surgeon and Harvard Medical School professor John Collins Warren. Warren, a noted breast surgeon, designed the knives for tumor removal. The dissectors were donated to the Library by George L. Nardi, M.D. in 1984.


Warren Museum medical case featured in Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery

By , September 17, 2012

Still of Charles Lowell CT scan, 2009, WAM 07877, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

In the September 5th edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, William H. and Johanna A. Harris Professor of Orthopedic Surgery James H. Herndon, M.D. published an orthopedic and historical analysis of one of the Warren Museum’s most compelling medical cases, the sacrum, pelvis and femur upper extremities of an early 19th century Maine resident named Charles Lowell. Lowell is recognized as MGH’s first orthopedic case and his accident and subsequent malpractice claims are cited as one of earliest, well-published medical trials in the Unites States.

On September 7, 1821 Lowell was thrown from his horse in Lubec, Maine, dislocating his left hip. His two physicians, John Faxon and Micajah Hawkes, believed they successful reduced the hip but when Hawkes visited Lowell 4-6 weeks later, he found that the injury persisted. Lowell traveled to the newly found Massachusetts General Hospital and its chief surgeon [and Warren Museum founder] John Collins Warren for relief. After much effort, Warren was unable to reduce the injury. Lowell left Boston vowing to sue Faxon and Hawkes for failing to repair his hip.

Lowell vs. Faxon and Hawkes went through three trials. In June 1822 a jury found for Lowell. An appeal in September ended in a hung jury. The final trial in 1824 was the most involved, with many physicians, including John Collins Warren testifying. Warren later published his remarks in an explanatory pamphlet. The case ended in the physicians’ favor. As the specifics of his injury proved the crux of the trial, Lowell was determined to have a postmortem done and upon his 1858 death Jonathan Mason Warren [John Collins Warren’s son] sent a colleague to perform the autopsy, bringing the hip back to Boston with family consent for further examination. This was the last orthopedic analysis done of Lowell’s injury – until Herndon’s 2010 study.

Lowell’s hip preparation was transferred to the Warren Museum by J. Collins Warren [John Collins Warren’s grandson] and accessioned into the collection circa 1885. In 2010 James Herndon, with

Historical photograph of Lowell hip preparation, 1858-1915, WAM 07877, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

permission from the Museum, took radiographs and a CT scan of Lowell’s hip. His findings, entitled  An Orthopaedic Case Contributed Substantially to the First Malpractice Crisis in the United States in the Nineteenth Century, have been published in Volume 94-A, Number 17 of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Dr. Herndon generously donated copies of the scans and radiographs to the Warren Museum to benefit future researchers.

The Charles Lowell pelvis and femur preparation can be found exhibited in the Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery on the 5th floor of the Countway Library of Medicine on the Harvard Medical School campus. More information on visiting the Gallery can be found here.

Warren Museum phrenology cast on loan to MGH’s Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation

By , April 18, 2012
The Warren Anatomical Museum has loaned a death mask of pianist and composer Carl Maria von Weber to the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital. The cast is part of the neuroscience and neurosurgery display on the first floor of the newly-opened three story museum on Cambridge Street, adjacent to the hospital. The death mask was collected by the Boston Phrenological Society between 1832 – 1835, and added to the Johann Gaspar Spurzheim cabinet of head, skull, and face casts. The Boston Society was defunct by 1847 and MGH co-founder, Warren Museum founder, and Harvard Medical School anatomist John Collins Warren purchased the debt of the organization in exchange for its phrenological cabinet. Warren then donated the collection to his eponymous museum at HMS.

In 1921, Warren’s grandson, J. Collins Warren, wrote a history of the collection and the Boston Phrenological Society, The collection of the Boston Phrenological Society — A retrospect.

The Society also published a 1935 catalog entitled A Catalogue of Phrenological Specimens. According to that catalog, the von Weber cast was collected to demonstrate large areas of “Time, Tune, Ideality, and Wonder.”

The new Russell Museum will be opening its doors April 17, 2012. Admission is free and it’s accessible to the public via a street level entrance on Cambridge Street in Boston.

The phrenology cast was featured in a slideshow on marking the Museum’s opening.

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