Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice US editor's choice

US Highlights

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 21 December 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:0-a
  1. Douglas Kamerow, US editor (dkamerow{at}

    As usual, the Christmas double issue of the BMJ is seasonal, inspiring, humorous, entertaining, and bizarre. There is too much good stuff to describe it all, but here are some highlights.

    Ever wonder how sword swallowers do it and how they escape injury? Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer surveyed (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39027.676690.55) members of a sword swallowing society to find out. Turns out that relaxation and practice are the keys to successful sword swallowing, but injuries (usually minor) and “sword throat” are relatively common.

    Donald Combs inspires with his predictions (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39049.453877.BE) of future technologies that will transform medicine. From nanotechnology that allows miniaturized cameras and sensors inside the body to robotics that create customized replacement joints, everything he mentions is being developed now.

    Mark Bailey and Janaka de Silva discuss a Sri Lankan classification of diseases and the sanni masks that represent various conditions (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39055.445417.BE). The color photos of the masks, representing dermatologic, gastrointestinal, and psychiatric maladies, are alternately frightening and humorous. The masks are used in exorcism rituals to treat diseases.

    Architectural critic Edwin Heathcote describes (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39062.614132.55) a series of inspiring new oncology buildings designed by leading architects. In each of the Maggie's Centres, as they are called, a healing spirit is built into the architecture. Though they are widely different in their design, each has been constructed to maximize access to nature and a feeling of scale, peace, and serenity.

    And finally, the seasonal and bizarre are combined in A I Finall et al's case history (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39044.460023.BE) and an editorial (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39055.493958.80) by Edzard Ernst about people who inject mistletoe extract subcutaneously to treat cancer. Happy Christmas indeed.

    Watch for the new look of BMJ on the web and in paper in January.

    View Abstract