The Development of the Surgical Investigator

  • D. C. SabistonJr.


For centuries, the discipline of surgery has been fortunate in having a number of investigators whose contributions have been of basic scientific significance as well as practical clinical application. The great medical historian, Garrison, selected three surgeons whom he considered the greatest of all time—Ambroise Paré, John Hunter, and Joseph Lister (Fig. 1). It was Paré who re-introduced the ancient use of the ligature in the control of hemorrhage and placed it upon a firm, systematic, and practical basis. He also introduced the concept of the controlled experiment into surgery when he treated two wounded soldiers with similar wounds lying side by side in a tent near the field of battle. The first soldier’s wound was managed by the standard method of routine cauterization with boiling oil. The second was managed by debridement, cleansing, and the application of a clean dressing. He commented that he spent a restless night, feeling that the second patient would do very poorly. However, his wisdom was demonstrated the following morning when he found the second patient to be essentially without systemic symptoms whereas the former had high fever, tachycardia, and disorientation. When he was congratulated on the outcome of his first successful case, he very humbly replied: “Je le pansait, Dieu le guerit” (“I treated him, God cured him”), a quotation that is inscribed on his statue.


Medical Student Surgical Training Johns Hopkins Hospital Chief Resident Residency Training Program 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

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  • D. C. SabistonJr.

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