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October 26, 1970

The History of Cardiac Surgery, 1896-1955

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1970;214(4):764. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03180040066031

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The Scalpel and the Heart, by Robert G. Richardson, 323 pp, 23 illus. $8.95, New York: Charles Schribner's Sons, 1970.

The progress from the first hesitant approaches to cardiac surgery up to the present makes a story which, if presented even a century ago as "science fiction," would have seemed absurd. Two new books which describe this progress cover much the same material but have quite different formats and, apparently, aim at rather different audiences.

Johnson's book, relatively brief, has an admirably direct and forthright quality, with a simple narrative style that is pleasing and effective. Johnson covers the period from the early '90s when, following stab wounds of the thorax, successful suture of the pericardium was first accomplished, up to the year 1955, when heart-lung machines permitted open cardiac surgery. In less than 150 pages of text he tells us about major relevant advances in physiology and surgery; traces