surgery | Hektoen International

Pursuit of immortality: Dr. Amosov

Olena Lupalo Bursa, Turkey (Winter 2018)   Portrait of Nikolai Amosov. Photo by L. Sherstennikov. In 1962, after his visit to the USA, heart surgeon Nikolai Amosov (1913-2002) became obsessed by artificial heart valves. There were no opportunities for this in the Soviet Union – neither information nor technology. Amosov sewed his first cusp of […]

Impostor syndrome: Richard Selzer’s life of doubt

Mahala Yates Stripling Fort Worth, Texas, United States (Winter 2018)   Richard Selzer in the two-act play The Doctor Stories “I am called by the name of Chekhov. Each time I hear it, I blush and cringe. He had true genius; I just do the best I can. There is an enormous difference. I do believe […]

Evidence versus practice: the story of surgery in breast cancer

Robert Biggar Bethesda, Maryland, United States (Winter 2018)   “As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.” ― Hippocrates (circa 400 BCE) Imhotep: physician, architect and adviser to Pharaoh Djoser, 26th Century BCE As a scientist, I see breast cancer as a biological process that […]

Ghosts from the Ether Dome

Isabel Legarda Belmont, Massachusetts (Winter 2018)   The ether dome today. Author photo. On October 16, 1846, dentist William Morton successfully demonstrated the use of ether as an anesthetic inside Massachusetts General Hospital’s Bulfinch Pavilion. That day, now passed down to us as “Ether Day,” is often seen as a turning point for surgery both in […]

Sir James Paget

Born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in 1814, James Paget was one of the outstanding surgeons of his time, remembered for his description of osteitis deformans (Paget’s disease of bone) and of Paget’s disease of the breast. He has been regarded as the surgical equivalent of  William Osler in medical education and of Rudolph Virchow in […]

A one-millimeter push revolutionizes ear surgery: the story of Samuel Rosen and surgery of the stapes bone

Mahmood Bhutta London (Summer 2016)   Figure 1: Otosclerosis fixing the stapes bone in the middle ear  In 1952 Dr. Samuel Rosen gently pushed the stapes of a man on whose ear he was operating.1 The stapes is the smallest bone in the body and the last of the three bones of hearing. Rosen was not […]

Think like a surgeon

Violet Kieu Melbourne, Australia (Winter 2016)   Surgeons operating at Cho Ray Hospital, Saigon, Vietnam Photography by Violet Kieu I was on a quest to become a surgeon. Now I am simply on a quest to survive surgical training. Getting into surgery was the easier part. Getting through, in comparison, is now the challenge. The […]

Locard’s principle and the surgeon

Sukanya Sam Chennai, India (Winter 2016) It is near-most bliss, a somber quietitude, from the moment the surgeon scrubs, which takes about ten minutes, soaping up past his elbows, calmly lathering up, fingers interlocking and then not, covering every inch and then rinsing with saline—holding up his hands methodically, allowing the liquid to fall sequentially […]

Christiaan Barnard

Shameemah Abrahams South Africa (Summer 2014)   Dr. Christiaan Barnard The year 1945 is iconic as the end of one of the most pivotal and devastating periods in human history – World War II. That same year, as the world began to rebuild, in the coastal city of Cape Town at the tip of Africa, […]

Sushruta: the ancient Indian surgeon

Satish Saroshe Indore, India (Winter 2016)   Through all of Sushruta’s flowery language, incantations and irrelevancies, there shines the unmistakable picture of a great surgeon. Undaunted by his failures, unimpressed by his successes, he sought the truth unceasingly and passed it on to those who followed. He attacked disease and deformity definitively, with reasoned and […]