It's safe to play the cello again: cello scrotum doesn't exist

Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 11:25 am
Cello scrotum revealed as medical hoax

For more than 30 years it has been making musically minded men think twice about joining the string section, but now the condition known as "cello scrotum" has been exposed as a hoax.

By John Bingham
28 Jan 2009

Said to be a source of intense irritation to sufferers, the affliction was in fact just a tickle.

Baroness Murphy, now one of Britain's leading experts on mental health, has admitted that she and her then husband John invented the condition in a prank letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1974.

They came up with the ruse after reading about a condition dubbed "guitar nipple" - caused by vibrations from the sound box of the guitar.

"We have been dining out on the story ever since," they admitted in a joint letter in the current edition of the journal.

The affair has been nicknamed "Scrotumgate".

After reading about the cause of three young classical-guitar players whose musical exploits had caused painful inflammation of the nipple in May 1974, they decided to create medical mischief.

To their surprise the letter was published and rumours of the condition have persisted ever since.

It was only after seeing it cited in a paper discussing music-related disorders last month that they decided to come clean.

"We thought it highly likely to be a spoof, and decided to go one further by submitting a similar phenomenon in cellists," they wrote.

"Anyone who has ever watched a cello being played would realise the physical impossibility of our claim. Somewhat to our astonishment, the letter was published."

Baroness Murphy is a former professor at Guy's and St Thomas's hospital in London and is a member of an oversight board of the NHS as well as being Vice-President of the Alzheimer's Society.

She was made a life peer in 2004, and is active on mental health and ageing issues in the House of Lords.

The original letter was intentionally signed only by John Murphy as he was not a doctor.

He is now chairman of a brewery in Suffolk.

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Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 12:05 pm
Jello Scrotum, however, remains a serious source of concern.
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Mr Stillwater
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 01:51 am
@Walter Hinteler,
He is now chairman of a brewery in Suffolk.

Hopefully, 'brewer's droop' will get the same treatment.
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