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JAMA 100 Years Ago
February 21, 2001


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2001;285(7):856. doi:10.1001/jama.285.7.856

About twenty years ago one of the most celebrated surgeons in London made a public address in which he stated that surgery had reached its limits. To-day one of the most famous surgeons of this country announces that the birth of modern surgery dates back barely a quarter of a century.

W. W. Keen, M.D., LL.D., ex-president of the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, in his critical survey of the "Progress of Surgery,"1 traces in broad lines the effect of the two great discoveries in surgery—anesthesia and antisepsis—to their individual results in each branch of surgery; and shows what few surgeons themselves realize how vastly the proportion of human suffering has been lessened, and how greatly human life has been lengthened by the appliances of these discoveries. The desire to bring relief to suffering is too widely human to permit of a narrow national pride, but it can not, nevertheless, fail to be an incentive to American surgeons to remember that some of the most brilliant achievements have come from their fellow countrymen.