On Call During A Riot

Last night while on call I treated rubber bullet injuries.

I treated MANY rubber bullet injuries.

If you thought rubber bullets only cause bruising – well, you’d be wrong. They can penetrate. During my fourth year forensic pathology rotation, we did an autopsy on a man who died due to a rubber bullet embolism.  Continue reading “On Call During A Riot”

Elective Extravaganza: Forensic Pathology in South Africa

Today, a fifth year medical student, Ryan, joins me to talk about his fourth year elective in Forensic Pathology. Readers of the blog might remember that I found Forensics to be immensely interesting but also emotionally heavy. You can read more of those posts here.

elective extravaganza forensic path Continue reading “Elective Extravaganza: Forensic Pathology in South Africa”

Forensics Study Break: Mellanby Effect

How is it that I perform better at Anaesthetics and Infectious Diseases than at Forensic Pathology? It was a short two-week module and by all accounts my class should have done well., but our average was dismal.

It must be the completely unappetising subject-matter. You’ll remember that I found the practical rotation rather difficult. Studying it requires many, many study breaks. Like this one.

One of my classmates shared this picture (which he made on 9GAG):

Continue reading “Forensics Study Break: Mellanby Effect”

Morbid Cartoon Anatomy

You know what’s awesome about fourth year? The lecturers go through so much effort to teach us. They put together nice slideshows, they share interesting tid-bits and they are friendly. They could have saved us all a lot of grief if all lecturers were this nice from first year. But I digress.

Anatomical art, which once took the world by storm (think: Frank Netter) is back and cooler than ever. Our lecturers have been alluding to some artists in their presentations. Here are some examples. I include links to the artists’ sites where I was able to find them. Please visit them, I will only include one example of each here.

Michael Paulus has an entire series of popular cartoon anatomy:

Continue reading “Morbid Cartoon Anatomy”

Matryoshka (disambiguation)

Medical Students quickly become desensitised. It is a coping mechanism and it works well – not the least because it makes us laugh. Nevertheless, it’s no wonder people think we are weird.

Case in point:

Clinical Partner and I discuss our feelings on autopsies.

He says,

“Wow… doing that autopsy on the pregnant woman was like having one of those Russian dolls”.

Continue reading “Matryoshka (disambiguation)”

“Interviewing” our Forensic Pathologist

The Forensic Pathologist in charge of our clinical group these past two weeks was one of the best doctors that has worked with us.

She gave us confidence and got us to such a point that we were willing to ask questions.

We asked her why she decided to go into this field, and she said that it is always intellectually stimulating and that the hours are, for the most part, conducive to a good family and social life.

Continue reading ““Interviewing” our Forensic Pathologist”

Delivery in the Lab

A page from William Hunter’s ‘The anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures’, published in 1774.

Our last day of autopsies today and I finally took a deep breath and asked my question: “Do you ever get pregnant mothers? Do you look at the babies?”


Sometimes the pregnancy is an incidental finding, tiny 12-week old fetuses.

Sometimes they pregnancy is almost term.

They won’t usually dissect the fetus, but they look at it: take measurements and inspect the placenta.

Coincidentally, there was such a mother today. She died at home of massive haemoptysis (most likely TB-related) and the healthy baby died along with her.

They brought the uterus to us, unopened. Another amazing bit of anatomy, seeing it lying in relation to the other organs.

Continue reading “Delivery in the Lab”

Brain Cut: Fatal Fall?

We are privileged to have weekly tutorials from the only forensic brain pathologist in Africa. He is retiring soon – which is sad, because he is clearly a genius. He also teaches with passion, which seems rare in our field.

Anyway, we had an interesting case during brain cut today.

A 22-year-old man fell. The Professor’s first question was, “And how do 22-year-old’s fall? From ropes, and buildings, and hang gliders.”

Continue reading “Brain Cut: Fatal Fall?”

Not all babies grow up

I enjoyed obstetrics so much last year, not for the “miracle of new life”, but for the influence one might have. I keep thinking: There are 15 babies learning to walk in this province, and the first person to touch them, to see that they are perfect, was me.

We performed an autopsy on a two-month-old baby who was born at 32 weeks gestation. It seemed like a SUDI – Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants – but the initial doctor queried negligent parenting.

Continue reading “Not all babies grow up”