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The treatment, recommended by M. Stievenart was therefore adopted, and, by the end of the second week, the ophthalmia had almost completely disappeared.
Mercurial Inunction in Peritonitis.
Dr. Delhaye reports three cases to illustrate the efficacy of this mode of treatment. According to him, two were cases of entero-peritonitis occurring within a week after delivery; the third case was one of chronic entero-peritonitis in a woman 60 years of age.
It seems to us unnecessary to give the details, as the reports are rather prolix and vague.
Dr. Delhaye attributes the practice of mercurial inunction on the abdomen in puerperal peritonitis to M. Vandezande of Anvers, and seems to regard it as one of the greatest discoveries of late years in practical medicine. An ounce or more of the strongest mercurial ointment is rubbed in every 24 hours, until a decided effect is induced.
He strongly recommends the same mode of treatment-the inunction of the mercurial ointment on the limbs, &c. so as to induce a decided ptyalism quickly -in cases of chronic inflammation of the meninges of the encephalon and of the spinal marrow.
His memoir closes with the report of several cases of very troublesome onychia -wherein a nail had grown into the flesh of the finger, and had caused severe irritation and sometimes ulceration also quickly relieved by keeping the parts well covered with the strong mercurial ointment; of chronic scrofulous abscesses and sores treated successfully in the same way; and, lastly, of the phlegmasia alba in puerperal women.-Bulletin Medical Belge.
INFLAMMATION OF THE UMBILICAL VEIN IN INFANTS.
(We are not aware that the attention of English pathologists has been drawn to this disease, although it seems to have been noticed by our continental neighbours both in France and Germany for a good many years).
MM. Osiander, Meckel, and Sasse were the first who described phlebitis of the umbilical cord. M. Duplay has recently had an opportunity of examining several cases of it at the Hôpital des Enfans trouvés at Paris; and the following is a brief abstract of his paper in a late number of the L'Experience.
In his first case, that of an infant which died on the fifth day after birth, purulent matter was found in the umbilical vein from the navel to its entrance into the liver the small intestines exhibited here and there points of inflammation and ulceration.
In the second case-neither the age, nor the symptoms present during life are mentioned—the umbilical vein was found full of pus, and its parietes were somewhat thickened: the umbilical arteries also contained pus. Purulent matter was found in both auditory passages, and likewise under the arachnoid membrane. Both pleura were coated with pseudo-membranous pellicles of recent deposit.
Third Case. An infant died on the tenth day after birth, having been affected from the fourth day with colicy pains, diarrhoea, vomiting, and meteorism of the abdomen. The peritoneum was found on dissection to be inflamed and partially coated with a membranous deposit, and there was a sero-purulent effusion in the abdominal cavity. The branches of the vena portæ, and especially the umbilical vein, exhibited a preternatural turgescence: this was found to be owing not so much to congestion, as to a thickening of their parietes. The trunk of the umbilical vein was a full line in the thickness of its walls, and
its branches were even more remarkably affected. The cavities of all these vessels were coated internally with membranous deposit.
In the fourth case, the infant died on the seventh day after birth, after having suffered from severe pain in the bowels, vomiting, icterus, &c.
On dissection, all the morbid changes characteristic of peritonitis, were discovered the umbilical vein and its branches were thickened, and lined with purulent matter internally.
Case fifth.-An infant died on the third day after birth, in consequence of an erysipelatous affection of the body.
The intestines and liver were found to be inflamed, coated with lymph, and also with a puriform exsudation. The umbilical vein, from the navel to its insertion in the liver, was filled with yellow pus.
In the sixth case, the infant was affected with symptoms of icterus, purulent ophthalmia, and an erysipelatous affection of the face, having a tendency to gangrene here and there: it died on the tenth day after birth.
Along with certain morbid changes in other parts, the umbilical vein was found to be filled with puriform matter, and to have its parietes considerably thickened.
General Remarks.-Our knowledge of the history of phlebitis of the umbilical cord is too imperfect to warrant us in speaking, with any certainty, on any of its characters or features.
As to the cause of disease, M. Sasse and others have attributed it to the irritation arising from the ligature of the cord, and from the ungentle attempts, sometimes made, to squeeze the blood out from it.
The consequences or effects of the lesion seem to be usually peritonitis, icterus, and rapid exhastion of the vital energies.-L'Experience.
ON FOUNDLING AND BASTARD CHILDREN IN FRANCE AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES OF EUROPE.
During the course of last year (1837) the Abbé Gaillard published a very interesting and instructive work, entitled Recherches Administratives, Statistiques et Morales sur les Enfans trouvés, les Enfans Naturels, et les Orphelins en France, et dans plusieurs autres pays de l'Europe," and which was couronné for its merits by the Academic Society of Maçon. The first part is taken up with statistical tables of the number of illegitimate births throughout France, and of the proportion which these bear to the entire number of children born. From these it appears that the number has been increasing progressively each year from the revolution of 1789, down to the present time; that the proportion of illegitimate to the total number of births throughout the kingdom may be stated as one to fourteen; that this proportion is much higher in the department of the Seine, than in any other-being nearly as one to three in it—and that it is invariably greater in the manufacturing than in the agricultural districts of the country, and in garrison and sea-port towns than in others. M. Gaillard alludes to the diminution de la foi religieuse as one of the most potent causes of this preponderance.
In the second section of his work, the author has given an admirable historical sketch of the fate of foundling children among different nations, ancient as well as modern. He shews by numerous authorities that in ancient times the legislature did not at all interest itself in the preservation of these helpless beings. In Athens and Rome they were exposed and left to perish; and we know that, in reference even to the children born in wedlock, these so-called civilised states
invested the father with the power of putting them to death, if he deemed that he was unable to rear and maintain them. The practice too of inducing miscarriage seems to have been very common among all ranks of society; and we read that women of high family were in the habit of resorting to this infamous means for the sole motive of preserving their youthfulness and beauty.*
M. Gaillard has clearly shewn that the early teachers of Christianity were the first to stigmatize not only this villainy, but likewise that of exposing children, whether legitimate or illegitimate; and that, when this religion became the established creed of the empire, the most severe penalties were enacted against their perpetration.
The institution of foundling hospitals followed, very probably, soon this happy change of things; for we read that there was one in Milan in 787, and one in Rome in 1212. It appears that it was not till the seventeenth century that such an establishment existed in France.
In the third section, M. Gaillard examines with great minuteness all the administrative regulations which have been enacted in France, during the last half-century, respecting foundling children: this chapter, although well deserving of attention, we must pass over.
The fourth chapter treats exclusively of the mortality among foundling children.
In 1789 the mortality seems to have been enormous; not more than two in a hundred survived four years. This frightful havoc is now considerably diminished; but still much might be done to reduce it lower than it is. Among the chief causes of the mortality, we may mention the necessary exposure of the infants in transporting them, sometimes for considerable distances, to the foundling or registration houses, and also the deprivation to the infant of the natural means of support, its mother's milk.
M. Gaillard glances at some of the regulations and usages in other European countries touching the maintenance of foundling children. He condemns the custom in America, and recently adopted in Great Britain, of imposing all the weight of supporting the child on the unfortunate mother, who is generally "more sinned against than sinning." Some of the German States, with the view of diminishing the charge to the State of maintaining so many illegitimate children, have tried the effect of prohibiting marriages among such persons as are very poor and not able to maintain their offspring; but this practical application of Malthusian doctrines has only led to a more wide-spread corruption of morals among the lower orders. Russia has fallen into the very opposite extreme; for, in the foundling hospitals there, the children are brought up and educated in a much more expensive manner than could possibly have fallen to their lot in their parents' houses. But it may fairly be objected that such a state of things is, in fact, offering a premium or direct encouragement to bastardy.
M. Gaillard has stated some curious particulars respecting the proportional number of illegitimate births at different seasons of the year. As might be expected, it appears from his researches that many more illegitimate conceptions take place in Spring and Summer than in Autumn and Winter.
The institution of Lent, a festival peculiarly devoted to prayer and fasting, was wisely appointed by the Catholic Church 'au moment où le printems va allumer le feu des passions.'
Another particular stated by our author deserves notice here, and, if confirmed by the researches of others, it is certainly a curious one. He says that the relative number of male to female births is less among illegitimate than among
To say nothing of the criminality, we might denounce the impolicy of the practice alluded to. A miscarriage tends much more to impair the constitution than a labour. All professional men will admit the truth of this statement.
legitimate conceptions; and that, in some circumstances, the advantage is even in favour of the female sex.*
The concluding part of M. Gaillard's work is occupied with the examination of the various political and moral questions, which relate to the public adoption and maintenance of illegitimate children; how far it is convenient and proper for a state to institute and support establishments for their reception; how, when admitted, they should be treated and educated; in what manner they should be disposed of when they grow up to adolescence; and lastly how far it should be made obligatory on the parents, when they are known, to contribute specially to the maintenance of their offspring. All these subjects are treated with great ability and good feeling by the author, and we can assure our readers that they will be both pleased and instructed by a perusal of his work for themselves. -Gazette Medicale.
ON THE DANGER OF BEING BURIED ALIVE, And of the MEANS TO ASCERTAIN DEATH: ACUPUNCTURATION OF THE HEART, &c.
The writer, M. Bourgeois, alludes to several cases of lethargy, extacy, and trance, which have so completely simulated all the phenomena of real death, that the unfortunate victims have been actually carried to their graves, and sometimes even, horresco referens, interred before the dreadful mistake has been discovered. In hospitals such an occurrence is especially apt to happen, in consequence of the patients being at once removed to the dead-room, whenever life is supposed to be extinct.
In some parts of Germany, it is the custom to fix a bell-rope in the right hand of each corpse for four and twenty hours preceding burial; and we read of some Tales of Terror, of the supposed dead person having, on awaking, rung the bell, and thus saved themselves perhaps the dreadful fate of being buried alive.
M. Bourgeois assures us that when the general exhumation of the Cimetiere des Innocens, at Paris, was made during Napoleon's reign-for the purpose of converting the locale into a market-place-many of the skeletons were found in such attitudes as plainly indicated that the miserable tenants of the tomb had resuscitated after interment.
It has indeed been conjectured that the change of posture may have been occasioned by the jolting of the coffin, when it is let down into the grave; but we fear that this explanation is not satisfactory. Certainly it will not account for all cases-we allude to those where the skeletons have actually been found fairly out of their coffins, or where too evident signs remain of the interred having been struggling to escape.
The following strange case of lethargy, is related in a recent number of one of the English periodicals. (Query. What Journal is alluded to? Rev.)
A medical man suddenly lost all outward consciousness and power of motion, upon hearing of some overwhelming misfortune. It would seem however, that he continued to be quite sensible, within himself, not only of his own existence, but even of the dreadful situation that he was in.
The sense of hearing too still retained some portion of its action; for he could
Whether this statement be correct or not, we do not understand the ground of our author's deduction, "that it affords an additional argument, in favour of the embryological doctrine, that the foetus in the early stages of intra-uterine life is neutral as to sex, and that the rudiments of the genital apparatus become feminine or masculine in consequence of some ulterior influence or direction, which although inexplicable is not the less real."—(Rev.)
distinguish around him the cries of his wife and children, the voice of the medical man called to his assistance, and he understood from what was said that he was supposed to be dead.*
After a certain time, indeterminable pour lui, he was aware of the preparations for his burial, and of his being put into and conveyed away in a coffin; he heard the clod of earth rattle upon its lid; and it was not until he was in some degree sealed (scellé) that he found himself able to shriek and to move about to prevent the fatal mistake.
Some dreadful cases have occurred where the existence of life was not discovered until the knife of the anatomist had been applied to the body. We are informed that such was the manner in which the Abbé Prevost, the author of some wellknown romances, was sacrificed!
M. Bourgeois then alludes to the most efficient means that can be used to resuscitate life in suspected cases. He mentions the insufflation of air into the lungs, the withdrawal of blood in some cases and the infusion of it in others, the employment of galvanism or electricity, and lastly acupuncturation of the heart.
This last remedy he regards as one of the most active and efficacious. The operation has been long practised not only with impunity, but often with wonderful success, by the Chinese. Needles may be inserted into and passed through almost any viscus of the body with perfect safety. Even the heart itself may be treated in this manner, and no unpleasant consequences follow.
This has been done in several of the hospitals of Paris, and more especially in the Hôpital de la Pitié, by Professor Beclard: the needles were allowed to remain for several minutes, and were then withdrawn.
Signor Carraro, an Italian physician, has recently made numerous experiments to ascertain the effects of acupuncturing the heart in resuscitating animals asphyxiated by drowning: he reports very favourably of the remedy.-(Journal Universel des Sciences Medicales, tome 29.)
M. Bourgeois suggests that the needles might be made the means of transmitting the galvanic or electrical influence through the central organ of the circulation; but he does not speak from experience.-Revue Medicale.
POISONING BY ARSENIC-EXHUMATION OF THE BODY, AND CONVICTION OF THE CRIMINAL, THREE YEARS AFTER Death.
The following case may be added to those reported by M. Orfila and others, where the assistance of chemistry has most strikingly led to the detection of crime, many months and even years after its perpetration.
A widow woman, by name Lamothe, had, in November 1833, mentioned to several of her acquaintances that a Madame Chevalier had made her universal legatee, and that she hoped she might be soon in possession of her property, as her friend" ne pouvait pas vivre longtemps." It was long after the date of this foolish speech, that Madame Chevalier did in truth die, after a severe attack of colic accompanied with most distressing vomiting.
M. Bourgeois afterwards alludes to this curious circumstance that the hearing seems to have been the only sense, which remained partially active in several cases of trance. He says, 'asphyxiated and lethargic patients have often declared that, during all the time that they were in a state of insensibility, they were still in some degree aware or conscious of sounds around them. Several facts establish the fact that soldiers, who were in the act of being buried with military honours, have been awakened from their stupor by the report of the muskets over their grave.'