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May 24, 1919


JAMA. 1919;72(21):1544. doi:10.1001/jama.1919.02610210040015

A recent paper by Horsley1 on the value of biologic principles in surgical practice concluded with these words:

Real progress in surgery lies not so much in cultivating the art of surgery and in striving after mechanical dexterity, which is important but can be acquired in a few years, as in the study of biologic principles that concern function, nutrition, metabolism, and repair of tissues, and in the thoughtful application of these principles to every operation and to every method of surgical treatment.

It would be easy to substantiate this significant statement by reference to the history of progress in surgical performance. However, it cannot be reiterated too often, especially to those about to embark on a career in medicine, that technic and curative or operative methods are merely means to an end. Real advance of a permanent sort can rarely be made until there is some appreciation that

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