The Fisher Case: Letter from Dr. Tread Well

J. B. Treadwell
1878 Boston Medical and Surgical Journal  
In my testimony before the coroner's jury in the case referred to I said nothing about villi of the chorion. I had had no particular experience in this special phase of microscopic work, and consequently did not consider myself justified in using the results of such investigation in the way of evidence. A day or two after my appearance before the inquest, when Professor Dalton was brought to my house for the first time, he asked me if I had found the villi of the chorion. I replied, " I think I
more » ... eplied, " I think I have, but I have not had much experience in that kind of work." Dr. Dalton then made a brief microscopic examination with a negative result, remarking at its close that for certain reasons he was not surprised at his failure to find the villi, even if they had existed. I resolved upon further investigation in regard to this point, but before I had opportunity to execute my design Dr. Cheever published what I considered an unfair letter, in a hurriedly written reply to' which I said, " The presence of the corpus luteum was not relied upon as the only or the main sign that pregnancy had existed," it seeming to me that the other indications noted in the report of the autopsy afforded evidence hardly secondary to that furnished by the corpus luteum. I then inadvertently added, " The presence of the villi of the chorion was alone sufficient to settle that point." Having excluded this point from any bearing in my testimony, my allusion to it in the letter referred to was an inadvertence due to the haste in which I wrote. Subsequent investigation -has convinced me that this proof of pregnancy did not exist. In this connection I wish to say that your supposition that I am now " convinced that the true corpus luteum is not a sure sign of pregnancy " is not correct ; on the contrary, I am more than ever satisfied that it is, and I suppose there is no objection to my saying that since the completion of his recent researches Professor Dalton has expressed a similar opinion, saying to me, " There is no doubt about it." I am now satisfied that in the Fisher case the corpus luteum found was not a true but a false one, so modified by abnormal conditions that in most respects it resembled a true one, but from which in other and vital points it differed. I have no doubt that had Professor Dalton seen it in its fresh state he would have detected its real character.
doi:10.1056/nejm187809120991108 fatcat:hhxpamm6qbds7ouibtme2gjlb4