Operations that Made History

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Overview

A notable surgeon and charismatic teacher himself, Professor Ellis has brought together in Operations that Made History a fascinating collection of renowned surgical procedures, each one illustrating a different aspect of the history of surgery. The first section of the book looks at examples of surgical procedures which have made a major contribution to the history of surgery, such as the first successful gastrectomy, performed in Vienna over a hundred years ago by Theodor Billroth. Some operations, whilst in themselves minor procedures, have nevertheless had a massive impact on the history of surgery. These are grouped together in the second section. In the final part of the book, Professor Ellis focuses on the famous patient, such as Nelson and George IV. In surgery, as in fields of human activity, history is forgotten at our peril. Operations that Made History gives its readers a unique insight into a remarkable speciality, using the lessons of history to instruct as well as amuse.

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

David L. Nahrwold
Harold Ellis, a distinguished British surgeon and teacher, wrote this collection of stories about important events in surgery. He describes six operations he deems as breakthroughs, four surgical innovations, and seven famous patients who underwent surgical procedures. Each story is a chapter, some of which were published previously. Ellis gives his definitions of major breakthroughs and surgical innovations in the preface. Not surprisingly, most of the breakthroughs took place in Great Britain, and the innovations took place there or were performed by surgeons who trained there. Although not stated, the author clearly desires to highlight events in surgical history that were important in the development of the field. The public interest in the illnesses of important persons, especially royalty, increases the awareness of the benefits of science and medicine and ultimately benefits these fields. This is a book for the serious historian or the casual reader. Unfortunately, the terminology used in describing situations and procedures is highly technical. This will make it difficult reading for the reader without a strong medical background. With an attractive cover and paper of good quality, this paperback is liberally illustrated with rare photographs. References at the end of each chapter are sparse but sufficient for the reader interested in more information. This book will serve historians as a point of departure into more detailed works, but it need not be in every library. Ellis is an excellent writer. Unfortunately, the terminology restricts the audience. The same book, written for a lay audience, would be an interesting general bookstore selection. The book has nocentral theme and therefore seems a bit disjointed, probably because some of the chapters were published previously. Nevertheless, I found Ellis's stories entertaining while flying across the Atlantic on a trip to England.
From The Critics
Reviewer:David L. Nahrwold, MD(Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description:Harold Ellis, a distinguished British surgeon and teacher, wrote this collection of stories about important events in surgery. He describes six operations he deems as breakthroughs, four surgical innovations, and seven famous patients who underwent surgical procedures. Each story is a chapter, some of which were published previously. Ellis gives his definitions of major breakthroughs and surgical innovations in the preface. Not surprisingly, most of the breakthroughs took place in Great Britain, and the innovations took place there or were performed by surgeons who trained there.
Purpose:Although not stated, the author clearly desires to highlight events in surgical history that were important in the development of the field. The public interest in the illnesses of important persons, especially royalty, increases the awareness of the benefits of science and medicine and ultimately benefits these fields.
Audience:This is a book for the serious historian or the casual reader. Unfortunately, the terminology used in describing situations and procedures is highly technical. This will make it difficult reading for the reader without a strong medical background.
Features:With an attractive cover and paper of good quality, this paperback is liberally illustrated with rare photographs. References at the end of each chapter are sparse but sufficient for the reader interested in more information.
Assessment:This book will serve historians as a point of departure into more detailed works, but it need not be in every library. Ellis is an excellent writer. Unfortunately, the terminology restricts the audience. The same book, written for a lay audience, would be an interesting general bookstore selection. The book has no central theme and therefore seems a bit disjointed, probably because some of the chapters were published previously. Nevertheless, I found Ellis's stories entertaining while flying across the Atlantic on a trip to England.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521127820
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/20/2009
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Major Breakthroughs: 1. The first ovariotomy; 2. Ligation of the abdominal aorta; 3. Ruptured ectopic pregnancy; 4. The first successful gastrectomy; 5. Splenectomy for rupture of the spleen; 6. Renal transplantation; Part II. Innovations: 7. 'I dressed the wound and God healed him'; 8. The birth of anaesthesia; 9. The compound fracture; 10. Electrosurgery; Part III. Famous Patients: 11. Queen Caroline's umbilical hernia; 12. Lord Nelson's amputation; 13. The sebaceous cyst of George IV; 14. Henry Thompson and two royal bladder stones; 15. The appendiceal abscess of Edward VIII; 16. The empyema of George V; 17. The pneumonectomy of George VI; 18. Envoi.

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