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Moments in Surgical History
September 2001

Orificial Surgery

Arch Surg. 2001;136(9):1088. doi:10.1001/archsurg.136.9.1088

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL of the late 19th-century American unorthodox medical sects was the homeopathic movement. It grew out of the experimental pharmacologic studies of German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) and within a few decades had won over numerous converts, primarily in urban middle and upper classes. Among the more interesting yet bizarre clinical schemes to emerge from the practice of homeopathy was orificial surgery. This philosophy, the treatment of chronic disease processes through surgical operations on the rectum, vagina, cervix, urethra, nares, mouth, etc, evolved from the personal practice beliefs of Edwin Hartley Pratt (1849-1930), an Illinois homeopathic general practitioner.