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Historical papers

Lancet 1896; ii: 104-107

Sir George Beaston published the above paper in the Lancet in 1896. In it he describes four patients with advanced breast cancer who showed significant clinical improvement, one of whom he regarded as cured, following a surgical oophorectomy.  This paper was the first to describe the use of an endocrine therapy in the treatment of an advanced cancer.  After graduating from Edinburgh University, Beaston lived on a Scottish estate where it was well known to the local farmers that cows that had their ovaries removed would lactate indefinitely.  He considered some of the histological changes in the lactating breast to be akin to those of cancer.  In animal experiments he demonstrated that oophorectomy reduced proliferative processes in the breast which subsequently led to the operation being performed in man.  Following oophorectomy in these four patients Beaston does not appear to have performed this operation again.

Am J Med Sci 1923; 166:  48-66

In 1932 Crohn, Ginzburg and Oppenheimer published their classical paper on regional ileitis in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  However, it is likely that that they were not the first to describe the condition today known as Crohn's disease.  Moschowitz and Wilensky, in 1923, published in the American Journal of Medical Science four cases and gave a detailed description of the pathology of this condition.  Crohn should be regarded as lucky to have the disease named after him. It was the policy of JAMA in the 1930s to list authors alphabetically rather than indicating the importance of his contribution to the work.  The senior surgeon in the department in which he worked was omitted - Dr Berg.  Furthermore, it is considered by many that Ginzburg and Oppenheimer wrote the majority of the paper.

Ann Surg 1908;  48:  541-549

In 1908, Hogarth Pringle published the above paper in the Annals of Surgery detailing his experiences of eight cases of liver trauma seen at the Glasgow Royal infirmary - all of which unfortunately died.  Three succumbed prior to surgery.  Of those that he operated on he recognised what today would be called an 'abdominal compartment syndrome'.  On opening the abdomen he noticed increased bleeding from the liver injuries.  His first patient exsanguinated prior to any intervention.  In subsequent patients he was able to reduce the operative blood loss by compression of the hepatic artery and portal vein between his finger and thumb in the free edge of the lesser omentum (Pringle's manoeuvre).  Pringle recognised the increased mortality following blunt abdominal trauma and in view of the almost inevitable death following surgical intervention recommended conservative management for most cases of blunt abdominal trauma.

Br J Surg 1950;  38:  175-182

In this 1950 paper published in the British Journal of Surgery, Barrett reviews the literature and discusses the opinions prevalent at that time regarding the aetiology and pathology of 'oesophagitis' and 'peptic ulcer of the oesophagus'. He cites historical papers published by Tileston (1906), Stewart and Hartfall (1929) and Lyall (1937). Barrett acknowledges that 'peptic ulcer of the oesophagus' was first described by Albers in 1839 and was considered by Rokitansky to arise as result of chronic gastro-oesophageal reflux.  He comments that the condition is often associated with peptic ulcer disease of the stomach and duodenum and describes in close proximity to the areas of oesophageal ulceration, islands of 'ectopic' gastric mucosa. In the paper he hypothesised that this gastric-type columnar epithelium was found in the oesophagus as result of a congenitally short oesophagus that drew the gastric mucosa above the gastro-oesophageal junction.  What in fact he was describing was intestinal metaplasia arising as a result of chronic gastro-oesophageal reflux and subsequently termed 'Barrett's oesophagus'. 

Arch Surg 1920:  71:  121-122

In 1920, Walter Sistrunk reported the Mayo Clinics experience of the treatment of thyroglossal cysts.  The total number of patients treated was 31 of which 18 were men and 31 were women.  The cysts presented between birth and 53 years with most becoming apparent between 20 and 25 years of age.  Many presented with abscess formation, in which case, they discharged spontaneously resulting in sinus formation.  In this paper, only two pages long, Sistrunk reported that simple excision of the cyst was often unsuccessful.  He recommended a transverse cervical incision.  The cyst should then be dissected and any proximal tract should be identified.  Below the hyoid bone the tract was usually easy to identify.  Above the hyoid bone the tract was more difficult to define and consequently he recommended removal of the middle third of the hyoid bone and dissection of a core of tissue in the base of the tongue up to the level of the foreman caecum.  He was able to perform this operation without complication and no incidence of mouth infection.  The operation has subsequently been name after him.
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