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Moments in Surgical History
May 1998

Joseph Pancoast's A Treatise on Operative Surgery

Arch Surg. 1998;133(5):579. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Surg.-ISSN-0004-0010-133-5-ssh0598

With the beginning of meaningful American contributions to surgicalliterature in the early 19th century, the manifold epic events that enlivenour country's surgical past began to receive wide dissemination. Of the varioussurgical texts published in this still preanesthetic period (ie, prior tofall 1846), the most physically impressive and artistically dazzling is JosephPancoast's (1805-1882) massive A Treatise on Operative Surgery. With 80 quarto plates comprising 486 separate illustrations and 380pages of description, the tome's most distinguishing features are the wonderfullyexecuted lithographs, many of which are from drawings of surgical operationsby Pancoast.