Odds and quads

This hepatic trocar - a late 19th-century surgical instrument for the treatment of deep-seated liver abscesses - forms part of the collection at what is now the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

August 30, 2012

Credit: Anne Koerber/LSHTM

The instructions on the inside of the box note that "occasionally it may be necessary to excise a portion of a rib as a preliminary" to its use.

The trocar was designed by Sir Patrick Manson (1844-1922), who studied at the University of Aberdeen and moved to Formosa (now Taiwan) in 1866 to serve as a medical officer for the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs.

He spent much of the 1880s establishing a medical school in Hong Kong (which opened in 1883), before returning to England as physician to the Seamen's Hospital in 1892.

A central figure in the development of tropical medicine as a distinct discipline, Sir Patrick proposed the theory, later confirmed by Sir Ronald Ross, that malaria was propagated by mosquitoes.

Appointed physician and adviser to the Colonial Office in 1897, he also proved instrumental in the creation of the London School of Tropical Medicine two years later.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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