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Innovations in Medicine
by Walt Giersbach

“Sometimes names exist for things that don't exist and never did. The BBC published an article on its Web site … about the nasty-sounding complaint cello scrotum. A letter about it appeared in the British Medical Journal on 11 May 1974.

“It turns out that it was a spoof by Dr Elaine Murphy, now the highly respected and respectable Baroness Murphy, formerly a professor at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital in London. She created it after reading reports about guitar nipple, which she thought was a hoax. She has come clean because the term resurfaced in the 2008 Christmas edition of the Journal.” —Michael Quinion, World Wide Words Jan. 31, 2009

Dear Mr. Anthony:

Forgive me for writing, but your incessant calls to my medical practice deserve a lengthy and precise answer. Yesterday, you called my nurse away from a deathly ill patient to demand that she describe the symptoms of “cello scrotum.” Regardless of the fact that you play the cello in the Brighton String Orchestra, let me emphatically say there is no such thing as “cello scrotum.” (And only in your wildest nightmares is there something called “violin veins” or “harpist’s hernia.”)

Your so-called disease is a spoof created by Dr. Elaine Murphy—a former professor at Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital in London. She made it up it after reading reports about “guitar nipple.” This is not to be confused with “jogger’s nipple,” a sports medicine problem created by friction of clothing against the protuberances on a woman’s bra-less chest.

Last week you suggested your snoring was accompanied by night-time twitching, or PLMD. Even I had to look that up as Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. (My nurse said in my apoplexy that I was suffering from IWTKYD—I Want to Kill You Disorder.)

Then, you telephoned several times to make an appointment associated with your (self-diagnosed) “Wii knee.” The Wii Fit you received for the holidays did not give you a cartilaginous problem with your patella. (My harried nurse suggested that if you throw your shoulder out, you might consider following it, but my Hippocratic Oath would still require me to treat you.)

As with tennis elbow, there are bonafide joint problems associated with extreme activities. I’ve treated a number of cases of “Wii knee,” in which the patient suffers repetitive stress injury after playing that particular video game. However, you do not have this or any other affliction, including “texting thumbs” from continual messaging on your mobile phone. What you have is an obsession with logging onto WebMD, reading Time Magazine and watching re-runs of ER.

You have also bandied it about that I’m a prude for not writing you an Rx for Viagra or Cyalis. That is a gross calumny, Mr. Anthony. Your problem lies not in low libido but in your anatomy. Most penises hang down and slightly to the left. Yours, however, is in the shape of an inverted question mark—a problem about which I can do nothing.

I insist that you refrain from creating these imaginary problems and invented injuries. Consider this an injunction against wasting our time. From your medical records, your only legitimate complaint is your weight—20 pounds of which could be eliminated by having your head removed.


Dr. Heinrich Manoeuvre