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January 1996


Arch Surg. 1996;131(1):66. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430130068012

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Philip Syng Physick (1768-1837) has been commonly called "the father of American surgery." From 1800 to 1831. he served on either the surgical or anatomical faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. Among his many achievements was to introduce and popularize the stomach tube as a means of removing unwanted gastric contents. Physick's 1813 account of a "new mode of extracting poisonous substances from the stomach" provides the first description of a gastric tube in the American surgical literature. Having been consulted regarding twin 3-year-olds who inadvertently received an overdose of laudanum, Physick "determined to inject an emetic into their stomachs. For this purpose a large flexible catheter was passed through the mouth down the oesophagus into the stomach...."

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