Surgery pp 1181-1187 | Cite as

History of Endocrine Surgery

  • Jeffrey A. Norton


The science of endocrinology began relatively recently, at the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time, physiological theories were dominated by the Russian Ivan Pavlov, who argued that the nervous system primarily controlled all bodily activities. Because of this, few thought that ductless glands existed. However, in 1902 William Bayliss and Ernest Starling made a simple discovery that gave birth to the science of endocrinology. They demonstrated that acid in the gut stimulated the secretion of pancreatic juice when all connections from both organs to the nervous system were severed. They postulated that a “chemical” rather than a “nervous” substance is responsible for pancreatic secretion, and named the substance secretin.1 This finding of secretin represented a whole new class of body messenger. In 1905 Starling proposed the term hormone from a Greek word meaning “to excite” for substances that mediate messages through the circulation.2 Langerhans had previously attributed an endocrine function to the islets of the pancreas, and the science of endocrinology was born.


Parathyroid Gland Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type Islet Cell Tumor Parathyroid Tumor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey A. Norton
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryStanford University Medical CenterStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Divisions of Surgical Oncology and General Surgery, Department of SurgeryStanford University Medical CenterStanfordUSA

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