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Legends of Surgery

Legends of Surgery is a podcast that tells the stories of the people and events that make up the history of modern surgery, told in an informal, entertaining and educational manner.
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Legends of Surgery
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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 11, 2018

In this episode, we'll cover the life of the 18th century English surgeon, Percivall Pott. This includes some of the numerous disorders named after him, and covers the first description of an association between an occupational exposure and cancer, which would lead to significant social change. And of course, we'll take some detours, including covering the origin story of the London Hospital St. Bartholomew's, and more!

Nov 19, 2018

In this episode, we explore the history of Robert Liston, considered "the fastest knife in the west end" of London, in an era before anesthesia. He was also famous for an operation with a 300% mortality rate, and for performing the first operation under ether in Europe. Liston also had many rivals, including a physician that led the charge during the brief and strange history of mesmerism in medicine. 

Nov 1, 2018

In this episode, we'll cover the strange and sometimes disturbing history of psychosurgery, and in particular, the frontal lobotomy. We'll meet the Nobel Prize winning Egas Moniz as well as the physician and self-promoter Walter Freeman. And as a special bonus, we'll briefly cover the history of zombies!

Oct 8, 2018

In this episode, we will follow the history of the treatment of clubfoot, from antiquity, through the Renaissance and into modern surgery. Interestingly, the thinking has swung from conservative treatment, through a number of mechanical solutions, through surgical solutions, and finally come back to a non-invasive approach. As usual, we will meet some interesting characters, and in particular, cover some of the luminaries in the development of the specialty of orthopaedics!

Sep 25, 2018

In this episode, we will take a look at some of the unsung heroes of the operating room, going back to some of the earliest surgeries. We'll meet some of the interesting roles that developed, including Handlers, Dressers and Surgical Beadles. From there, we'll trace the development of the modern surgical technologist through the 20th century. And of course, we'll take some detours, including meeting the surgeon Frederick Treves, and his famous patient, the Elephant Man!

Sep 10, 2018

In this episode, we will follow the history of the repair of inguinal hernias from ancient times, through the age of dissection, to the Renaissance where we will meet the surgeons that influenced our understanding of the anatomy and pathology of hernias. From there, we will cover the first successful tissue repairs, then move on to the era of mesh repairs, and finally, cover the laparoscopic approach. Of course, we'll take a few tangents and learn some interesting facts about hernias!

Aug 3, 2018

In this episode, we explore the life of the English surgeon, Sir Astley Cooper, as well as some of his most notable accomplishments. Along the way, we'll cover the infamous story of his nephew, Bransby Cooper, which intersects the beginnings of the medical journal The Lancet, and represents one of the first medico-legal trials on record. Some of our detours will take us to the first carotid artery ligation, done by a naval surgeon while at sea, as well as introducing us to the pioneering vascular surgeon, Rudolph Matas. All that and more in this longer than usual episode!

Jun 11, 2018

In this episode, we will explore the introduction of Western style surgery into feudal Japan, during the period of isolation, that lasted from 1639 to 1853. During this time, only a few of the European powers had access to Japan, and for most of that time, it was Holland alone. The Dutch, through trade by the Dutch East Indies Company, held a monopoly on trade with Japan, and came to greatly influence their practice of surgery. Along the way, we'll meet some of these surgeons, as well as a Japanese surgeon who was able to perform major surgery on patients while they slept, a breakthrough that beat the events of the Ether Dome by more than 40 years!

May 30, 2018

Patients are often placed in the 'lithotomy' position. But where did this come from? We'll cover the history of the surgical procedure for bladder stones, known as lithotomy, which dates back from the earliest records of surgery right up to the beginnings of modern surgery. A number of different surgical approaches were used, and we'll cover their history, as well as meet some of the surgeons (and lithotomists) that had an impact on these operations.

May 11, 2018

In this episode, we'll cover R Adams Cowley, a surgeon who's single-minded determination reinvented how trauma patients are cared for, and essentially created the field of traumatology. Through his tireless efforts, the state of Maryland created a world-renowned centre for understanding and treating shock in trauma patients. He was an interesting character, to say the least. We will also explore the origins of the concepts of shock as a 'temporary pause in the act of death', and the 'golden hour', the critical window of time to treat shock patients. We'll also review the history of aeromedical evacuation, and of course, some other interesting side stories!

Apr 28, 2018

In this episode, we'll cover the relatively rare but interesting thoracic outlet syndrome, discussing its anatomy and causes, including cervical ribs. Along the way, we'll follow the history of the discovery of the syndrome as well as meet some famous surgeons involved in its treatment. And of course, go off on a few tangents, including the end of woolly mammoths!

Apr 8, 2018

In this episode, we'll cover the life and works of Dr. Friedrich Trendelenburg. Many may know the name from the "Trendelenburg position", but this German surgeon is known for so much more. We'll cover his other contributions, including his attempts to develop a surgical treatment of pulmonary embolism, and much more!

Mar 25, 2018

The heart lung bypass machine replaces the functions of the heart and lungs, allowing surgeons to operate on the heart. Its invention essentially created the specialty of cardiac surgery. Surgeon John Heysham Gibbon Jr. dedicated much of his career to developing this machine. This is that story.

Mar 9, 2018

Cochlear implants are an amazing innovation that have had a huge impact on patients. In this episode, we'll cover the history of their development, and highlight the contributions of one surgeon, Dr. William House. As well, we'll discuss some of the controversies behind the implants, and of course, take a few interesting side roads of history. 

Feb 25, 2018

In this episode, we'll cover the creation of the laser and some of the physics behind it (don't worry, not too much!) and meet the early pioneers of laser development. The story of the first medical lasers will be covered, as well as the more commonly used types and of course, their applications in surgery!

Feb 9, 2018

In this episode, we'll cover the life and times of the surgeon for whom "Metz" are named for, Dr. Myron Firth Metzenbaum. We'll look at his work with radium (including some amazing background history on it), the ambulance service in Cleveland, and of course, his instrument. Dr. Metzenbaum also developed an operation and helped found the American Board of Plastic Surgery! Find out all the details in this episode. 

Jan 28, 2018

In this episode, we will cover the brief but fascinating history of that often-overlooked specialty in the development of modern surgery, the railway surgeon. The birth, rise, and eventual demise of this particular area of practice will be explored, looking at the different roles they played, and how they influenced modern trauma surgery. And of course, we will meet a few interesting characters along the way!

Jan 12, 2018

In this episode, we will cover the history of the appendix, from its first description, to its (recently) described function and cover what happens when things go wrong. This includes the first recorded appendectomy, the first definitive description of appendicitis as a separate entity and some of the early surgeons who pioneered operative treatment. Finally, we'll talk about current and possible future management of appendicitis.

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