Soorjoo Coomar Goodeve Chuckerbutty Part 2
Second Instalment of the article.
Dr. Goodeve Chuckerbutty appeared at the first open competitive examination for appointment to the Covenanted service held during 8-11 January 1855. The Medical Times and Gazette published the full reports of this examination on the 10 February 1855. Twenty-two out of the twenty-eight candidates who appeared, passed, and George Marr was the first and S. C. G. Chuckerbutty second in order of merit.* He was now appointed to the Covenanted Medical Service as Assistant Surgeon (24 January 1855), and was the first Indian to win by sheer merit his way into this service that had until then been reserved for Europeans only. On his return to India, he was reappointed Assistant Physician to the Medical College Hospital.
Only in view of his long experience in the medical service in India, he was exempted
from probationary duty at the General Hospital and with a regiment (Lancet, 1855, i, 620). As an officer of the Covenanted Service, he successively became Surgeon (24 January 1867) and Surgeon Major (1 July 1873) to the Bengal Army.2
In 1857, he was again temporarily appointed to the Materia Medica chair. But circumstances prevented his holding this post permanently; and he was reappointed in August 1860 and again in March 1864 and finally obtained the office permanently in 1866 when Norman Chevers vacated this post to become the Professor of Medicine and the First Physician to the Hospital. In the intervals between his appointments to the post of the professor, Goodeve Chuckerbutty held charge of various hospitals and dispensaries in Calcutta. He was appointed Fellow of the Calcutta University in February 1863 and a Justice of the Peace for the town of Calcutta in May the same year. He was one of the founders of the Bethune Society and the Bengal Branch of the British Medical Association'5 of which he was the president for one year.16 As a teacher and physician, Goodeve Chuckerbutty acquired great reputation amongst his students. Bully Chunder Sen who was a student when Goodeve Chuckerbutty was the Second Physician, wrote that he was a very sound physician especially in the diseases of the chest."
His scientific contributions appeared in the Medical Times and Gazette, the Lancet, and the British Medical Journal and in the Indian Medical Gazette and the Indian Annals of Medical Science of Calcutta.15 He edited the fourth (? fifth) edition of his professor Henry Goodeve's Hints on Children in India, a book on paediatrics.2 In
addition to the scientific papers,he published many articles embodying his addresses
before learned societies in Calcutta, the subjects varying from the spread of education among Indians, improvement of sanitation of the city, etc.2 His major contributions were on dysentery and cholera,the papers on which appeared in the Indian Annals of Medical Science. But his papers on smallpox and other diseases were also of interest.
The early papers of Goodeve Chuckerbutty dealt with cosmopolitan diseases, viz., epilepsy, heart disease, perinephric abscess, etc. The paper on heart disease was entitled 'The Connection between Rheumatism, Pericarditis and Jaundice' and it recorded three cases with pericardial effusion with congestive cardiac failure and jaundice, the latter clearing up with the relief of cardiac symptoms. This was one of
the early communications describing such combination of symptoms and the writer could cite only a French author mentioning this.'8
In October 1864, he described twelve cases of long continued fever associated with maculated mulberry rash on the trunk, dusky red hue of the face, neck and hands.19 He found that the pulse was frequent and weak and the fever high. The other features were: watchfulness, delirium succeeded by stupor and coma, furry brown tongue, muscular tremors, subsultus tendinum and scanty urine. There was redness of the conjunctiva. The bowels were relaxed initially for a day or two; later there was constipation. The rash appeared between three and seven days, fading and vanishing after some five to eight days. There was marked anorexia, great prostration, dullness of hearing and sleeplessness. The morbid anatomy of the cases examined post-mortem was as follows: the internal organs appeared hyperaemic and there was fatty degeneration of the heart and the kidneys. The Peyer's patches were unaffected. These cases were diagnosed by him as of typhus fever on clinical grounds and morbid changes. Bacteriology was yet unborn and there was no other method of confirming the diagnosis. The case records, post-mortem findings, critical analysis of symptoms resented in the paper, show that the diagnosis was very probably correct and thus his was the first account of typhus fever in India, an earlier account from a jail in Agra being unconvincing on account of description of the rash.
Goodeve Chuckerbutty was interested in analysis of statistics relating to the cases
treated in the hospitals and dispensaries where he worked. Some of these figures make interesting reading providing an insight into the prevalent diseases and their
mortality rates about 120 years ago. During a half-year at the out-patients' department of the Medical College Hospital, he treated a total of 5,839 cases, 4,835 males and 1,004 females, working out the age and sex distribution and noting that most cases were between twenty-five to thirty years of age. He classified the diseases under sixteen headings of which the General Affections accounted for 2,232 cases. The conditions included in this group were intermittent fever mostly malaria 771, remittent fever (mainly enteric) 13, syphilis 579 and common rheumatism 631. The diseases of the spleen and the liver were included under the Glandular Diseases; there were 319 cases of splenic diseases, 134 of hepatitis and four each of cirrhosis and jaundice.
The heart diseases included endocarditis, pericarditis, hydropericardium, aortic and
mitral valvular disease, cardiac dilatation, etc. Unlike his European colleagues, he
had no difficulty in recognizing the skin diseases in Indians and recorded psoriasis,
ichthyosis, pityriasis, etc. He recorded that phthisis was rapidly fatal among the
natives and East Indians and counted many victims annually.
He had tried kamila, an indigenous drug, in the treatment of tape worms and found it effective. For the treatment of malarial fever, he used rather small doses of quinine with ferrous sulphate and magnesium sulphate initially; this was followed
by ferrous carbonate and cinchona. He recorded good results which were apparently
helped because he had been treating a semi-immune population.
* There has been considerable confusion regarding the results of this examination among European and Indian writers. The Harkaru, an Anglo-Indian newspaper of Calcutta, wrote on 8 March 1855 that Chuckerbutty was 'bracketted at the head of the list with two English students. Our fellow townsman has achieved the high distinction of being nulli secondus and we congratulate him upon it.'13 Several Indian writers were of the same impression' that Chuckerbutty had stood first and
even Crawford, the famous medical historian, wrote at first to this effect.1" Subsequently he corrected himself.'