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September 18, 1991

Principles and Management of Surgical Infections

Author Affiliations

Mayo Clinic Scottsdale (Ariz)

Mayo Clinic Scottsdale (Ariz)

JAMA. 1991;266(11):1576-1577. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470110122051

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The dawn of the antibiotic era a half century ago raised hope for the elimination of infections in medical and surgical practice. Yes, countless lives have been saved, and much suffering has been reduced, but only one infection has been eliminated from the world (smallpox, as a result of a massive immunization program). There is no doubt, however, that today's physicians are practicing a style of medicine and surgery nearly unrecognizable from that of their predecessors.

Aside from changes resulting from such "high-tech" advances as laser, stereotactic, and transplant surgery, much of the credit for surgical wonders we now take for granted must go to improved understanding of the host immune response, enhanced ability to diagnose and treat diseases, and availability of numerous potent antimicrobial agents. We are at the threshold of monoclonal antibody treatment of sepsis and a number of vaccines previously undreamed of.

"... much of the credit for