"Let no man who hopes to retain the respect of his medical brethren dare to operate on the human heart." These words were spoken less than a quarter of a century ago by a master in surgery and one of the boldest operators who ever lived, but if Billroth could appear to-day he would be astonished to learn that not only does the profession approve of such operations but that the mortality is no greater than he experienced in his own early work in abdominal surgery. Heart surgery is truly modern surgery.
The ancient surgeons had no hesitation in operating on the skull and lungs, but so great was the superstitious fear of touching the heart that we find no record of an operation, even on the pericardium, until 1793, when the great military surgeon, Baron Larrey, planned theoperation and removed fluid from the pericardium with a hollow needle. It
VAUGHAN GT. SUTURE OF WOUNDS OF THE HEARTWITH REPORT OF A SECOND CASE AND A TABLE OF 150 OPERATIONS. JAMA. 1909;LII(6):429–438. doi:10.1001/jama.1909.25420320001001
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