Mercury poisoning deformity, 1860s

Mercury poisoning deformity, 1860s

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Caption: Mercury poisoning deformity. Severe facial deformity in the case of US soldier Carleton Burgan (1844-1915). Burgan was serving with Union forces (Maryland's Purnell Legion) during the US Civil War, when he was treated in August 1862 for pneumonia. The mercury-based drug used was calomel. An ulcer developed on the tongue that spread and destroyed his upper mouth, palate, right cheek and right eye. The cheekbone was removed to prevent further spread of the 'mercurial gangrene'. In 1865, Burgan's face was reconstructed in pioneering work by US plastic surgeon Gurdon Buck (1807-1877). For the reconstruction, see C011/4360.

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