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August 16, 1941


JAMA. 1941;117(7):534. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820330038009

Operations for the relief of pain are an important part of the rapidly developing field of neurologic surgery so intensively stimulated and developed by the late Harvey Cushing. Spiller1 in 1905 suggested the possibility of relieving intolerable pain from the body by interrupting the pain pathways in the spinal cord. This procedure, called "chordotomy," was apparently first performed by Spiller and Martin2 seven years later. Frazier3 in 1920 published a report of the first large series of cases in which pain was relieved by this means. The pain in all these cases was intractable; the cause in nearly all of them was inoperable cancer. In a report recently published in The Journal, Grant,4 an associate and a successor of Frazier, has reviewed the history of the operative relief of pain. Chordotomy, while effective in relieving pain from the torso and lower extremities, is not especially successful