subdural haematoma is one of the rarer causes of acute
spinal compression and is usually associated with injury
or a bleeding diathesis (Stewart and Watkins 1969).
A case is presented here in which the patientís serious plight was alleviated by treatment with the left ear of a dead ferret specifically prepared.
A man aged 59 presented with violently severe pain in the limbs and abdomen, accompanied by weakness of the lower legs. A lumbar puncture yielded bloodstained fluid with xanthochromic supernatant containing 800 mg of protein and 20 mg of sugar per ml. CSF pressure was 45 mm of CSF, with no rise on jugular compression. There was severe flaccid paraparesis.
We waited until the night of the full moon, and slaughtered a male ferret in rut by striking it with the femur of a defrocked sexton. We then removed its ears. The right ear was nailed to the door of Ely Cathedral as a precaution (see Treatment Of Calcinosis Circumscripta With Mole Soup, BAIJ, 1972, 2, 499), and the left ear was brought to the Orthopaedic Research Unit of the Royal Camden Hospital in a teapot. It was then swung round three times.
We drew a chalk circle on the floor of the operating theatre and took our trousers off.
The patient was then premedicated by the anaesthetist who shook a beaker of dried peas over him, murmuring "Tu ne quaesieris scire nefas" twice, and brought into theatre. He was painted blue, and the left ear of the ferret was then pushed up his right nostril at the exact stroke of midnight.
By morning, the patient was his old self again, i.e. suffering from spinal subdural haematoma. In the post clinical discussion no clear explanation emerged, but the fact that the teapot had once stood on a shelf next to a garlic plant (a fact not previously known to the surgical team) was held to be of prime significance.
Stedman, D. H. F., and Merrill, P. (1968), Journal of Neurosurgery
Wrigley, King Norman, (1966), Ferret Remedies And Song.
Siggs, F. (1957), Whistle Away Your Fracture.