A fairyfly wasp of family Mymaridae.
Among the smallest insects in the world, some members of this wasp family can be less than half a millimeter in length, often relying on air currents to travel by drifting upon their bizarre, ‘feathered’ wings.
Photomicrograph credit to Spike Walker.
A fairyfly wasp of family Mymaridae.
References to hydrocephalic skulls can be found in ancient Egyptian medical literature from 2500 BC to 500 AD. Hydrocephalus was described more clearly by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates in the 4th century BC, while a more accurate description was later given by the Roman physician Galen in the 2nd century AD. The first clinical description of an operative procedure for hydrocephalus appears in the Al-Tasrif (1000 AD) by the Arab surgeon, Abulcasis, who clearly described the evacuation of superficial intracranial fluid in hydrocephalic children. He described it in his chapter on neurosurgical disease, describing infantile hydrocephalus as being caused by mechanical compression. He states:
“The skull of a newborn baby is often full of liquid, either because the matron has compressed it excessively or for other, unknown reasons. The volume of the skull then increases daily, so that the bones of the skull fail to close. In this case, we must open the middle of the skull in three places, make the liquid flow out, then close the wound and tighten the skull with a bandage.”
In 1881, a few years after the landmark study of Retzius and Key, Carl Wernicke pioneered sterile ventricular puncture and external CSF drainage for the treatment of hydrocephalus. It remained an intractable condition until the 20th century, when shunts and other neurosurgical treatment modalities were developed. It is a lesser-known medical condition; relatively small amounts of research are conducted to improve treatments for hydrocephalus, and to this day there remains no cure for the condition. In developing countries, it is common that this condition go untreated at birth. It is difficult to diagnose during ante-natal care and access to medical treatment is limited. However, when head swelling is prominent, children are taken at great expense for treatment. By then, brain tissue is undeveloped and neurosurgery is rare and difficult.
Cells lining the blood vessel walls
The structure of the endothelium, the thin layer of cells that line our arteries and veins, is visible here. The endothelium is like a gatekeeper, controlling the movement of materials into and out of the bloodstream. Endothelial cells are held tightly together by specialized proteins that function like strong ropes (red) and others that act like cement (blue).
Image courtesy of Christopher V. Carman and Roberta Martinelli, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
Annotated radiographs of the hands of an adult (above) and a child (below)
From childhood, the bones of the hand undergo major development. Note the changes in position and size among the bones of the wrist as well as the joining of the phalanges to their proximal epipheses (seen below as dark, narrow bands adjacent to each bone in the fingers of the five-year-old).
See if you can spot something unusual in one of the radiographs…
Illustration from Cunningham’s Manual of Practical Anatomy, 7th Edition (1920)
The title above reads: MICROCOSM dedicated to the London Water Companies - Brought forth all monstrous, all prodigious things: Hydras and gorgons, and chimeras dire.
This 1828 cartoon mocks the quality of contemporary London’s drinking water which was often drawn directly from the river Thames into which the city’s then primitive sewers also drained. In the cartoon, a woman is startled by caricatures of the microorganisms that one may have found in a drop of the very same water from which people drank.
Below, the caption reads: MONSTER SOUP commonly called THAMES WATER, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us.
Image courtesy of the Wellcome Collection
Surgical correction of an inguinal hernia, Turkey, 15th century
Human skulls - an infant and an adult - in profile.
The field of developmental anatomy describes the structural changes an individual progresses through from fertilization to full maturity. After birth, the 44 separate bones of the newborn skull gradually fuse, forming sutures. In the adult skull above, these may be seen as a series of serrated lines across the boundaries of the cranial bones. The skull also undergoes major alterations in terms of overall shape, and teeth begin to develop. Over a period of about two years, the number of separate bones in the infant skull halve in number as they are joined together.
Illustration from Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la médecine operatoire by Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery.