Here I’m talking about oddities in academic journals rather than the conventional grotesque specimens you might find in an anatomy museum. I don’t follow pop science. But trolling through dry publications, occasionally something like this catches my eye and makes me think really?!
Amongst this review outlining the physiology of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) rise in pregnancy and accuracy issues surrounding the modern day pregnancy test, the authors in a terribly non-sensationalistic way includes this juicy bit of horrible history:
“In 1927 the first bioassay for the diagnosis of pregnancy was introduced (Aschheim-Zondek Test). In this test, urine from women in the early stage of pregnancy was injected into immature female mice or rabbits. The ovaries of the animals were examined a few days subsequent to injection for the presence of follicular maturation, luteinisation and haemorrhage into the ovarian stroma, which signified a positive result for the pregnancy test.” – Gnoth and Johnson, Strips of Hope: Accuracy of Home Pregnancy Tests and New Developments
Testing for pregnancy wasn’t simple in those days and involved “sacrificing” the animals. How else would they have examined the ovaries of small animals to see whether they responded to the hormones from a pregnant woman’s urine? For those who are interested, NIH History (US) has a nice timeline on developments in the pregnancy test right back from the time of the Egyptians.
A case report mentioned the “face of giant panda sign”. I thought it was ridiculous – maybe the image was photoshopped? But I looked it up and apparently this radiological oddity does exist. I won’t re-post the image here but it’s all quite clear when you see the side by side images through the title link. For my physician-to-be friends who might want to read more about these brainy things, here’s a discussion about the radiological sign in “Wilson’s disease: MRI features.”
“Blogging Medical Students: A Qualitative Analysis” – who would have thought a study on what medical students write about on their blogs would ever have been done! The authors set out to identify themes in the content of medical student blogs. During their study period in 2012, I would have been blogging actively as a medical student too! But my site wasn’t particularly “Google-able” and anyway, according to their demographic breakdown somehow the blogs were sourced almost exclusively from the UK or US.
They went for a qualitative study rather than a representative sample. But in their limited sample of around twenty English-language blogs, they had a half and half ratio of guys to girls as blog authors. Which I find surprising. If we talk far more than guys, surely we would write more too? I guess another possibility is that male bloggers are more prominent on Google. Here are some common themes across the students’ blogs:
“Students often reflected on emotionally distressing experiences in medical school either related to realizing “that patients die” during clinical rotations or the “fear of not being good enough” academically and failing to meet the standards of a qualified physician.” – Pinilla et al, Blogging Medical Students: A Qualitative Analysis
Well, this is certainly one of the most eerie academic papers I’ve come across. Sounds like they summarised and classified my blog fairly well into “medical school” and “social life”, and all the relevant subcategories without ever coming across it, and in a rather cold and distant way. I thought I wrote like myself, rather than a typical medical student! But then I don’t know too many classmates who blogged, so I doubt a typical medical student blogger was an accurate reflection of the typical medical student. What does a typical doctor’s blog look like then?