A Remarkable Injury


This gruesome portrait illustrates an unconfirmed story: It’s said that in the 16th century a Hungarian nobleman named Gregor Baci survived for a year after being impaled through the head during a joust.

Did this really happen? We don’t know, but in 2010 surgeon Martin Missmann and his colleagues showed that it could have.

They had been presented with a craftsman whose head was transfixed by a metal bar that had fallen from a height of 14 meters. After two surgeries and a year of headaches and double vision, they said, the patient was symptom-free.

“This case shows that even severe penetrating traumas of the head and neck can be survived without sequelae of serious physiological dysfunction,” they wrote.