(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘surgery

Maps of the Mind…

Mo Costandi, the Neurophilosophy blogger for The Guardian, has created a wonderful side-site, Neuro Images, a collection of pictures of the brain.  From the scientific (like the image above) through the historical…

… to the fanciful…

… readers will find a treasure trove at Neuro Images.

[The title of this post is borrowed from the title of Charles Hampden-Turner’s extraordinary survey of theories of consciousness and mind through the ages.  It’s sadly out of print at the moment, but readily available used (e.g., here)– and well worth the effort.]


As we wrestle with mental maps, we might spare an incisive thought for William Williams Keen; he died on this date in 1932.  A pioneering physician, Keen was the first “brain surgeon” in the U.S.; he successfully removed a brain tumor from a patient in 1887.  He was the first physician to perform a decompression of the skull and the first physician in Philadelphia to use Lister’s antiseptic surgical practices.  Indeed, in 1892 Keen, with James White, wrote the first American surgery text based on Listerian principles.It was later superseded by Keen’s Surgery its Principles and Practices, which became the “Bible” of American surgeons.  Keen is also remembered for having assisted in the now famous secret operation performed on then-President Grover Cleveland in 1893, in which was the Commander-in-Chief’s upper left jaw was removed to rid him of a malignant tumor.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 7, 2012 at 1:01 am

“… like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all”*…

Dr. James Porter of Swedish Hospital in Seattle did the video below– in which the da Vinci surgical robot (pictured above with someone who is not Dr. Porter) folds and flies a paper airplane– to demonstrate how delicately it can work.

Still, as one worries that yet another traditionally-human domain is being colonized by machines, one can console oneself that the da Vinci can’t even think about doing spitballs.

[TotH to Nerdist]

* Samuel Johnson, 1763


As we wonder wistfully if the robotic anesthesiologist looks like a vending machine, we might wish a incisive Happy Birthday to Harvey Cushing, “father of modern neurosurgery”; he was born on this date in 1869.  Cushing is rightly remembered for such advances as the use of x-rays and physiological saline as irrigation during surgery, the founding the clinical specialty of endocrinology (and the discovery of the pituitary as the master hormone gland), the anesthesia record, and the identification of the physiological consequences of increased intracranial pressure.  But he is probably most renown for developing microsurgery to treat aneurysms and for effectively founding the new discipline of neurosurgery.  (That said, there are those who believe that he should be best remembered for introducing blood pressure measurement to North America, and still others who believe that it should be for the Pulitzer Prize he won for his biography of Sir William Osler.)

Edmund Tarbell’s portrait of Cushing (source)


The Language of Science…



“The individual with a straw was asked to instruct the blindfolded individual to do a dance routine.”
Science of Dating: Topics of Conversation

“It can then use this information to change the rhythm of its hair.”
In Brachiopods’ Eyes, the Theory of Evolution

“The spermatophore executed a surprise attack, penetrating and embedding itself deep in the flesh”
Self-injecting Squid Sperm

“When the subjects… were sleeping deeply, the researchers played a variety of noises, from a jet engine to an ice machine”
Brain Waves Foretell Whether We’ll Sleep Soundly

More nifty non sequiturs at Out of Context Science


As we slip into our lab coats, we might recall that it was on this date in 1867 that Joseph Lister published the first of his series of articles in The Lancet on “The Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery.”  Lister, having noticed that carbolic acid (phenol) was used to deodorize sewage, had experimented with using it to spray surgical instruments, surgical incisions, and dressings.  The result, he reported, was a substantially reduced incidence of gangrene.

Joseph Lister

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