The First Appendectomy

Appendicitis as you know is a very common condition.  Over 300,000 appendectomies are performed in the United States every year!

The first appendectomy, or removal of the appendix, didn’t happen until 1735.  A London surgeon successful removed the perforated appendix of an 11-year-old boy.  The boy made a quick recovery (for those days), and was successfully discharged from the hospital in a month!

Inflamed Appendix:


Kidney Stones

Twelve percent of men and seven percent of women will get a kidney stone in their lifetime. Your chance of having a kidney stone doubles if you have a family member who has had one.  The average kidney stone is about 5 mm (0.2 inches).  Most kidney stones will pass on their own, but some need to be removed.  The biggest kidney stone on record, which had to be surgically removed, was 2.5 pounds!

Kidney stone:


How many facelifts are performed in the United States a Year?

About 126,000 facelifts  are performed in the United States a year.  Women make up 90% of that number and men make up 10%.  The average cost of a facelift is $6,600.  Risks of face lift include infections, severe bruising (hematomas),  nerve injury, and in very rare cases (less than 1/1000) death.

Rare complication of severe bruising from facelift:


What was the first vaccination?

The first vaccination invented was by Edward Jenner , an English physician, in 1796.  In those days, people lived in fear of Smallpox, which had a high mortality rate, and survivors were left with disfiguring scars.  Dr. Jenner observed that dairy maids who milked cows and got the “Cowpox” virus did not get Smallpox.  Cowpox is a virus similar to Smallpox but is a much milder disease for humans.  Dr. Jenner found a dairy maid who had active Cowpox skin lesions, and used a needle to inoculate an 8-year-old boy in 1796 from these lesions.  The boy became ill with Cowpox but never got Smallpox.



Is it really true that drinking water helps you lose weight?

We’ve all heard before that water helps you lose weight.  But is it really true?

A study in Germany at the showed that after drinking  17 ounces of water, the subjects’ metabolic rate, which is the rate at which calories are burned, increased by 30% for both men and women for the next 30-40 minutes.

Another study found that in a group of overweight women, the women who drank a liter more of water a day, lost 4.4 more pounds in a year.

So drinking water does appear to help weight loss.  But remember, everything in moderation, drinking way too much water (or anything!) can cause problems.


How was Aspirin invented?

Aspirin was originally made from the willow plant, which is high in salicylate.  Hippocrates first used salicylic tea to help fevers in the year 400 BC!   In 1853, a chemist named Charles Gerhardt treated acetyl chloride with sodium salicylate and made “acetylsalicylic acid”, or aspirin as we know it, for the first time.  In 1899, the Bayer company called this Aspirin, and began selling it around the world.

Now, 16,000 tons of aspirin tablets are sold a year!  Aspirin helps fevers and pain, can help prevent heart attacks, and is even thought to prevent some types of cancer such as colorectal, endometrial (uterine), breast and prostate.



Why did Queen Elizabeth get Lead Poisoning?

Queen Elizabeth I began her reign in 1558, and was one of the most successful monarchs in England’s History.  Historians however, believe that the makeup she wore was slowly poisoning her!  Queen Elizabeth had Smallpox as a young woman, and it left scarring on her face.  To cover the scars, she wore makeup called “Ceruse”, which is lead powder mixed with vinegar, and gave her the pale, milky complexion she has in paintings.  Gradually it led to weakness, hair loss,  and paralysis from lead poisoning.




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