Breaking Down Science, Step by Step
Breaking Down Science, Step by Step
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Top 5 Weird and Gross Medical Case Studies

In the course of my work, I have to dive into the scientific literature, and sometimes I happen across medical case studies. These occur when a patient stumbles into hospital with a condition that is deemed interesting to the rest of the scientific community, and written and published in esteemed journals. I blogged about them weekly for a series I called "TMI Friday" on my blog.

Here is my top five weird and grosscase studies

5. Butters A.G. (1955). Unusual Rectal Injury, The British Medical Journal, 2 (4939) 602-603. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.2.4939.602


I'll leave you with a direct quote from the paper:

For domestic reasons he had become unhappy and morose, and on the evening of November 4 he decided to explode a firework up his seat. He accordingly fashioned a narrow tube, using cartridge paper, and with the aid of a pencil introduced one end of this tube, approximately 6 inches (15cm.) in length, into his rectum. He then placed a lighted firework into the end of the tube projecting out of his anus


Full story can be found here

4.C. Benson R. (1985). Vacuum cleaner injury to penis: A common urologic problem?, Urology, 25 (1) 41-44. DOI: 10.1016/0090-4295(85)90561-8 -


When you look at a vacuum cleaner, what do you see ? A tool perhaps, to help you deal with the crisps trodden into the carpet from a party the night before. A way to keep armies of dust from taking over your house and to frighten your pet dog. But there are some people (Who am I kidding, It's men.) who look at vacuum cleaners in a different way. Who observe the coquettish expression on a Henry vacuum cleaner and contemplate a universe of intimacy. Not much is known about these people. Are they a real sub-culture ?

The author of this paper had his suspicions, as he was caught in the midst of an epidemic of vacuum cleaner induced injuries to the penis.


3. Ahmad M. Intravaginal vibrator of long duration, European journal of emergency medicine : official journal of the European Society for Emergency Medicine, PMID: 11989500

I remember searching through an old jacket, and finding a torchlight within it. It had been in that jacket so long that I forgot that I had even lost it. I'm sure we've all been in that situation of finding something long after it had been lost, that combination of surprise and relief when it is found.


So let us put ourselves in the shoes of the 62 year old widow who wandered into an Accident and Emergency unit in Stockport. I don't even need to tell you the rest of the story. Just think about the title of this paper, and the patient I've described. The rest of this sordid story writes itself.

2. Cooke C.T., Cadden G.A. & Margolius K.A. (1994). Autoerotic Deaths: Four cases, Pathology, 26 (3) 276-280. DOI: 10.1080/00313029400169631


This paper tells many stories, like the man who wrapped copper wires around his genitals and plugged them into the mains. But that isn't the weirdest case in here, not by a long shot.

It was a peaceful afternoon, when a middle aged couple heard a frantic tapping, a frantic rapping at their door. It was their neighbour, and he was in quite a lot of trouble. He was a 29 year old man, of normal build, dressed only in trousers with the waist button unfastened and desperately attempting to talk before dropping dead in front of them. What happened to him, and why did he die ?


Perhaps an autopsy could answer these questions.

Removal of the trousers showed the penis to be semi-erect; around the base of the penis was a rubber band. On the lower abdomen and in the groin was dried, white coloured material, subsequently identified as semen.


Okay, so now we can draw a few conclusions as to what the young man was doing before he showed up at his neighbours door. It rhymes with "Rasta-Dating". But that still doesn't explain what killed him.

However, when they opened up his throat cavity, the cause was apparent. The man had inhaled an entire zucchini.

Further enquiry revealed that the deceased had been married for 2 yrs at the time of his death. He was casually employed but, unlike his wife, was not working on that day. The couple grew zucchinis in their backyard garden.


See more here

1. Blevins R.O. (2009). A case of severe anal injury in an adolescent male due to bestial sexual experimentation, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 16 (7) 403-406. DOI: 10.1016/j.jflm.2009.02.001


I'm not going to lie, the first time I read this paper, I felt like I had to retch. I've read all of the terrible things bored men and women do to their genitals, but for me, this was the one that went over my tolerance limit.

The victim had been bathing one of his parents bulldogs, when idea entered his mind. Something that he claimed he saw someone do in one of those annoying Pop-ups on the internet. I will quote from the paper on what the boy described happened next :

He [the boy] then elaborated that the bulldog had developed an erection during the bath and that he had removed the dog from the bathtub and turned him onto his back on the floor. Thereafter he had straddled the animal and put the dog's penis in his anus.


Yes, you read that correctly, But wait, there's more !

When asked how that had felt, the young man stated ''weird" and then went on to say that he had become ''scared" when the dog ''got locked to me like he does with X"(the female dog). He then said that he ''jumped up and pulled him out" with resultant pain and bleeding.


It is a perfectly reasonable reaction to run away from your computer screaming. If you managed to stick it out then you can read more here.

Thanks to Pitchblende for inspiring this post.

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