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Bedside Rounds

A tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine. 


Apr 24, 2017

A mortally wounded American president and the quest to find his assassin’s bullet unexpectedly opened up a potentially new era of medical diagnostics in the late nineteenth century. In this episode, learn about the assassination of James Garfield and how the controversy surrounding his medical care led Alexander Graham Bell to develop an “induction balance” that could locate a piece of metal inside a human body. This is the first part of a two part series called “Sound and Light.” Also included -- a new #AdamAnswers about … hiccups! All this and more in Episode 22 of Bedside Rounds!


  • Bell AG. Upon the electrical experiments to determine the location of the bullet in the body of the late President Garfield; and upon a successful form of induction balance for the painless detection of metallic masses in the human body, Retrieved from:
  • Paulson G. Death of a president and his assassin--errors in their diagnosis and autopsies. J Hist Neurosci. 2006 Jun;15(2):77-91.
  • Trunkey D, et al. Medical and surgical care of our four assassinated presidents. J Am Coll Surg. 2005 Dec;201(6):976-89. Epub 2005 Jun 16.
  • Reyburn R. Clinical history of the case of James Abram Garfield. JAMA. 1894;XXII(13):460-464.
  • Steger M et al. Systemic review: the pathogenesis and pharmacological treatment of hiccups. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Nov;42(9):1037-50