Florence's Reviews > Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted

Genius on the Edge by Gerald Imber
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Nov 13, 2011

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Read from November 13 to 18, 2011

Dr. Halstead was the father of modern surgery. In the mid nineteenth century a compound fracture or appendicitis was essentially a death sentence. Anesthesia didn't exist. Even if a patient could be operated on, surgeons weren't aware of the need to keep the surroundings sterile. If the patient contracted an infection there were no antibiotics to arrest it. So much for the good old days. Dr. Halstead introduced aseptic methods of surgery. He pioneered hernia surgery, mastetectomy to excise breast cancer and thyroid surgery. He was the first Professor of Surgery at the new Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Descriptions of illness and surgical technique were interesting. University politics were less interesting. Amazing that Dr. Halstead accomplished all this while his addiction to cocaine and morphine raged on uncured.
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