My recent post on head trauma got me thinking. The practice of trepanation (the drilling of holes in the head) is thousands of years old. While looking up information on the practice I came upon this woodcut.
The engraving is, I believe, from 16th century England. Over at wikipedia, editors were discussing whether or not this diagram actually showed trepanation, or some other surgical procedure (neither of which I would wish to undergo). Either way, the picture is quite revealing. According to the good folks at wikipedia, the original caption states:
This instrumente is for to worke upon the heed/whan the brayne pan is beten in/for to lyfte it up agayne.
Let’s take a closer analysis of the instrument and the patient.
If you look closely at the instrument, it would appear to be a screw drill with a scaffolding that clamps it to the scalp. It would appear from the caption and the picture, that the drill may have in fact been used to attach to a depressed piece of skull and lift it up again (although I’m not sure why a drill would be the best method).
More interesting to me is the patient himself. The artist paid very close attention to detail. Aside from the obvious hole in the head, there are several abnormalities. Knowing that my readers are generally quite bright, I’d like to see what you folks come up with by way of description and explanation for the patient’s findings.