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February 1950


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery of the New York Hospital and Cornell Medical Center.

Arch Surg. 1950;60(2):203-222. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1950.01250010221001

SINCE the report by Dragstedt1 of 2 patients on whom he performed transthoracic section of the vagus nerves for duodenal ulcer, much interest and investigation have centered on the role of the vagus nerves in gastrointestinal physiology and on their relation to peptic ulcer.

The earliest recorded experiments on the vagus nerves and their effect on the gastrointestinal tract were made in 1814 by Brodie,2 who observed changes in gastric secretion following division of the vagus nerves in the cervical region in dogs. Hartzell,3 in his review published in 1929, traced the progress in the understanding of vagus nerve function to the time of Brodie's publication. In 1910 Pavlov4 demonstrated that intact vagus innervation was necessary for the psychic or cephalic phase of gastric secretion and, through these studies, stimulated the investigation of gastrointestinal physiology.

Vagus section in gastrointestinal surgery was apparently first undertaken by Exner

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