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February 27, 1932


JAMA. 1932;98(9):746-747. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02730350060019

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Prenatal "Surgery"  Nature has been said to be a good physician but a bad surgeon. While recovery from disease depends on her efforts, nature fails in such surgical emergencies as gastro-intestinal perforations, severe hemorrhage or the displacements of fractures and dislocations. In a series of lectures on "Malformations of the Human Body Considered from a New Point of View," delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons, Sir Arthur Keith has shown that in embryonic development nature performs operations in many respects comparable with those of the surgeon, but surpassing in delicacy and perfection anything to which he can attain. The greatest of these developmental operations is the enclosure of the entire nervous system. The brain and spinal cord are only a transformed dorsal strip of skin of the embryo. It is remarkable that, although the brain is needed only after birth, it is the first of all bodily structures to