Holistic Surgery in the Interwar Period
|Dates:||29 September 2015|
|Times:||15:30 - 17:00|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||Faculty of Life Sciences|
|Who is it for:||University staff, Alumni, Current University students|
|Speaker:||Dr David Hamilton|
This seminar is part of the CHSTM Seminars Series September-December 2015. CHSTM seminars will be held fortnightly on Tuesdays at 4pm in Room 2.57 Simon Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester, M13 9PL, with tea and biscuits from 3.30pm. https://goo.gl/maps/RTFk4 All are welcome and please feel free pass this list on to interested colleagues.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the pace of surgical innovation was slow compared with the rapid advances before WW1 and after WW2. In this interwar period, some of the leading surgeons were instead drawn to the ‘holistic’ ideas favoured at that time by the physicians, namely that much disease was the result of an ‘imbalance’ of normal bodyfunction and that treatment should aim at restoring the earlier ‘balance’.
These surgeons were attracted to the possibilities arising from the new knowledge of the functions of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system (ANS) which suggested that each organ was controlled by the opposing influence of the ANS’s sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions. This dual control offered the possibility of imbalances which could cause organic disease. Surgical leaders like George W. Crile and Harvey Cushing in America, and René Leriche in France, were advocates of ANS surgery and nerve section operations appeared, including cutting the sympathetic nerve supply (sympathectomy) for heart, blood vessel, thyroid, or adrenal problems.
In addition, Alexis Carrel, Leriche’s mentor in Lyon, who had won a Nobel Prize in 1912 for his experimental organ transplant and direct blood vessel surgery, now shunned surgical work and gave his support in his book Man the Unknown (1935) for the holistic and constitutional medicine of the period.
After WW2, little remained from this interwar enthusiasm for ANS surgery, although sympathectomy and cutting the vagus nerve found niche, effective uses.
Dr David Hamilton
Organisation: University of St Andrews
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