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August 7, 1972

Curling's Ulcer: An Experiment of Nature

Author Affiliations

Harvard Medical School Boston


by Stacey B. Day, Bruce G. MacMillan, and William A. Altemeier, 286 pp, 22 illus, $17.50, Charles C Thomas, Publisher, 1972.

JAMA. 1972;221(6):605-606. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200190049026

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Owen Wangensteen in his introduction to this monograph describes it as a "fascinating" work, and this reviewer will use exactly the same adjective, despite any charge of plagiarism. The authors describe in detail the galaxy of definitions, causes, contributions of experimental surgery, and clinical problems that surround the syndrome of "Curling's ulcer." Not only are the facts presented, but the critical comments and philosophic peregrinations of the senior author combine to effect a clear and interesting perspective of this perplexing lesion.

The authors would replace the term "Curling's ulcer" by "gastrointestinal ulceration following burns," and indicate that the site of bleeding and classification as either an ulcer or an erosion must be specified. Their clinical studies confirm the frequency of this disease, since it has been noted in about 25% of all patients. Prophylactic therapy to prevent serious complications therefore is necessary. In only about 1% of patients are the