Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Atlas of head sections

Sir William Macewen, pioneer of modern brain surgery, was born in western Scotland in 1848. In 1872 he graduated in medicine from the University of Glasgow, greatly influenced by Lord Lister. In 1875 he was appointed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, first as assistant surgeon, and in 1877 as full surgeon. Continuing his career as an educator and clinical surgeon, he became, in 1892, the Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow. He continued to follow Lister’s antiseptic procedures and made significant advances in intracranial surgery, orthopedics, surgical removal of the lungs in the treatment of tuberculosis, endotracheal anesthesia, hernia surgery, and the surgical treatment of mastoid disease. He pioneered the use of photography for teaching medicine and surgery; and in his Atlas of head sections he published sections such as this one showing the spine, skull, portions of the brain, and even the ears and nose, rendering the body into abstract structures which can appear like works of art.

A dissected slice of a human head showing the interior structures including the spine. The nostrils and earlobes are visible.
Page from Atlas of head sections by Sir William Macewen. 1893. Original from University of Chicago.

Fall 2019



Highlighted Vignette Volume 13, Issue 1 – Winter 2021

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