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HEALTH DEPARTMENT ADDRESS RECENT PROGRESS IN SURGERY AND MEDICINE.
ADDRESS BY FREDERICK PETERSON, M.D., OF NEW YORK, CHAIRMAN OF
HEALTH DEPARTMENT AMERICAN SOCIAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION INSTRUCTOR IN
NERVOUS AND MENTAL DISEASES, COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS,
NEW YORK; PROFESSOR OF NERVOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT.
[Read Sept. 6, 1893.] A great deal of general interest has of late
years been taken in medical and surgical subjects by laymen; and
this is not surprising, since the advances and discoveries that
have been made are such as to command attention because of their
novelty and startling character. Surgery, it is true, has always
been more or less of an exact science; and even in ancient times
very serious operations were successfully undertaken, which are
nowadays often considered modern. Thus the Hindus in prehistoric
periods practised ovariotomy; and not long ago I saw and examined
an ancient Peruvian skull upon which, during life, the operation of
trepanning had been performed. The surgeon has to do with
objective, tangible things; and his work really differs little from
that of the cabinet-maker or joiner, save that, instead of wood, he
manipulates living tissues that bleed and inflame. The same
character of skill and handiwork is required, though the surgeon
must work more delicately, be more cleanly, and be more rapid in
his movements. Surgery having been so exact a science since its
earliest origin, its progress has not been perhaps so remarkable as
that of Medicine; though there have been epochs in its advance
undreamed of in the remote ages of the past. Such, for instance,
was the discovery of anaesthesia, within fifty years only, making
it possible for patients to undergo operations the very pain of
which might under former conditions...
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