HAUNTING portraits show patients with disfiguring medical conditions taken in a 19th century hospital when doctors tried to find cure.
The sharp black and white images reveal a woman with a cutaneous horn on top of her head and a little girl with a hairy skin patch covering the right side of her face.
The rare images dating back to the 1890s were captured as part of the patient records at Utrecht University Hospital – now known as the University Medical Center Utrecht.
Based in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands, it is one of the country's oldest hospitals and has existed since the foundation of Utrecht University in 1636.
The 19thth Century Gallery provides an interesting insight into the early days of medical photography.
However, clinical standards for medical photographs have not yet been established, and therefore many of the images are more exciting than scientific.
The pictures – taken by doctors in the university's hospital – have a female with cutaneous horns resembling an animal's horn.
They are a hard conical protrusion from the skin, made of compact keratin.
Also included is a portrait of a little girl with congenital melanocytic nevus – a dark colored, often hairy patch of skin covering the right side of her face.
Other images show burns that cause painful skin grafting.
They suffer from a thyroid condition that is once common in Utrecht, due to an iodine deficiency in the drinking water.
When the vintage medical images were published on YouTube, people were sympathetic to the patients suffering, with a man commenting, "my deep compassion for what these poor souls endure and the many before them".
Another noted that it was "so sad to imagine the pain these people suffered if they were treated human or not".
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A woman said that as a burnt offering, a victim who underwent skin grafting through most of her childhood, she "knows how terrible skin transplantation is".
The photographs also hit a nerve with a man with scoliosis who "had a hanger for two years" before finally getting surgery, and two titanium bars implanted on each side of the back.
One woman said that "though it is tragic, I find something beautiful in these photographs".
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