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Harvey Cushing (1869-1939)

Cushing graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1895 and underwent his initial training with William Halstead. In 1900 he traveled to Europe and worked with Theodor Kocher and Victory Horsley, the founder of British neurosurgery. On returning to the United States he joined the staff at John Hopkins Hospital where he began his neurosurgical studies. In 1912 he was appointed professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and surgeon-in-chief at the newly opened Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.Harvey Cushing

He was a pioneering neurosurgeon and developed many of the basic techniques and procedures used in neurosurgery today. Amongst his many paper the most important relate to the method of destruction of the trigeminal ganglion (1900), infiltrative analgesia (1902), the function of the pituitary gland (1910), experimental hypophysectomy (1910), the introduction of electrocoagulation (1928) and basophil adenomas of the pituitary gland (1932)

In addition to his clinical writings he was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 1926 for his book entitled the Life of Sir William Ostler. The endocrine disorder named after him is obviously Cushing's Syndrome or Disease. Cushing's Syndrome is the state of prolonged exposure to corticosteroids resulting from either excessive cortisol production or steroid medication. Cushing's Disease is pituitary dependent adrenocortical hyperplasia due to a basophilic pituitary microadenoma. The causes of Cushing's Syndrome are:

  • Cushing's Disease (65%)
  • Ectopic ACTH production (15%)
  • Adrenal adenoma (15%)
  • Adrenal carcinoma (5%)

"I would like to see the day when somebody would be appointed surgeon somewhere who had no hands, for the operative part is the least part of the work"

Letter to Dr Henry Christian Nov 20, 1911.

A not so recent papers

Cushing H W.  The basophil adenomas of the pituitary and their clinical manifestations.  Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp 1932:  50:  137-195.

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