February 10, 1993

The Evolution of Cardiac Surgery

Author Affiliations

Evansville, Ind


by Harris B. Shumacker, Jr, 476 pp, with illus, $57.50, ISBN 0-253-35221-5, Bloomington, Ind, Indiana University Press, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;269(6):804. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500060104047

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Cardiac surgeons interested in preserving their links with ancestors they never knew will learn here that their field probably began in 1814 when Romero surgically drained the overfilled pericardium. At that time, however, the Faculty of Medicine in Paris preferred that Romero's report remain "in the silence of its archives," rather than permitting it to be published (and thus risk suggesting that the Faculty approved of it).

"... meticulous planning, such as that of John Gibbon—with all his experimentation and disheartening starts and stops—more typically characterized the meandering search for effective cardiac surgical procedures through the 1940s and early 1950s."

By 1897, after several surgeons had sutured cardiac wounds, Herbert Milton wrote from Cairo that "Heart surgery is still quite in its infancy but it requires no great stretch of fancy to imagine the possibility of plastic operations on some... of its valvular lesions." Sir Lauder Brunton was actually