Image source: Wellcome Library, London
Sir Alfred Poland (1820-1872)
English surgeon who was apprenticed to Aston Key in 1839 and won several prizes as a student at Guy's Hospital in London. He was initially interested in eye surgery and worked at Moorfields' ophthalmic hospital for some years before he was appointed ophthalmic surgeon at Guy's and later full surgeon in 1861.
He was a modest retiring man who was quite careless about his appearance and was warned by the Treasurer to dress more decently and cleanly but ignored this advice.
He was known by his colleagues to be an excellent surgeon but would time his operations at unusual hours so that few observed him and perhaps for the above reasons, he had a small practice.
Apart from his surgical dexterity he was renowned at the hospital for his encyclopedic knowledge and the excellence of his presentations, both oral and written. He was an extremely popular teacher but his career was punctuated by recurrent illness so that he remarked that he was like a cat and had nine lives.
After one severe bout of hemoptysis his physician ordered him to bed only to see him the next day doing the rounds with his students. He died of consumption.
From the Dictionary of Medical Eponyms (2002) p. 312
Following is an excerpt from Poland's 1841 article in Guy's Hospital Report, Vol. 6, pages 191-193
DEFICIENCY OF THE PECTORAL MUSCLES.
Reported by Mr. Alfred Poland.
The following appearances presented themselves to me, in dissecting a subject at the commencement of the present session (1840-41).
George Elt, a convict aged 27, respecting whom no history could be obtained; except that it was remarked that he could never draw his left arm across the chest; and that when asked to give his left hand, in order that his pulse might be felt by anyone standing on his right side, he invariably turned round to do so.
The body was generally spare and delicate. The muscles of the right arm were much more developed than those of the left; and the right biceps had an additional head arising from the humerus.
The left external abdominal oblique muscle was fleshy superiorly and posteriorly, and tendinous inferiorly and anteriorly; arising, by rather indistinct digitations, from the bodies of the six inferior ribs, midway between their angles and their cartilages; and having also a distinct fleshy fasciculus from the eight rib, just at its attachment to its cartilage: the muscle then descended, and became tendinous at a horizontal line on the level with the umbilicus; and was inserted in the anterior third of the outer labium of the crista ilii, and into the pubes, forming, as usual, Poupart's ligment; and being entirely unconnected either with the linea semilunaris or linea alba, between which latter and the internal free edge of the muscle a triangular space was left, in which was seen a part of the obliquus internus.
On reflecting the integuments from the anterior parietes of the chest, the ribs, intercostal muscles, and the cavity of the axilla, were at once exposed. The whole of the sternal and costal portions of the pectoralis-major muscle were deficient; but its clavicular origin quite normal: this latter was thick and fleshy, and passed downwards, and outwards, to be inserted by a thin, broad tendon, into the outer edge of the bicipital groove, to the same extent as usual.
The pectoralis-minor muscle was wholly absent; not a vestige of it to be seen.
The serratus-magnus was also, for the most part, deficient, its two superior digitations only being present; arising, as two short, thick, and fleshy heads, from the first and second ribs: these immediately united, and passed to be inserted into the superior angle of the scapula, in front of the levator scapulae.
The thoracic vessels were present, but very small, supplying the intercostal spaces.
The anterior and middle thoracic nerves from the axillary plexus were not found; but the posterior, or the Respiratory of Sir C. Bell, was present, and distributed to the portion of the serratus-magnus muscle which existed.
In the left hand*, the middle phalanges were absent in all the fingers; except in the middle finger, where a ring of bone , a quarter of an inch in length, supplied its place. The web between the fingers extended to the first phalangean arti
* The hand has been deposited in the Museum of Guy's Hospital