0
We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
Retry
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
Retry
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Moments in Surgical History |

Zabdiel Boylston and the Earliest Published Account of an Elective Surgical Operation in Colonial America

Ira M. Rutkow, MD, MPH, DrPH
Arch Surg. 2002;137(2):227. doi:10.1001/archsurg.137.2.227.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Extract

THE STORIES SURROUNDING "surgical firsts" inevitably provide interesting medical lore. Whether it is a surgeon's biography containing a suspenseful description of how he or she conceived a groundbreaking operation, or a distasteful tale of bickering professionals claiming one-upmanship, surgical firsts are part of our professional heritage. One accepted historical truth is that the first recorded surgical operation in North America occurred in 1535 when Álvar Núñez Cabeza da Vaca (1490?-1557?), a shipwrecked Spanish explorer, removed an arrowhead from an American Indian's thoracic cavity. The operative report was included in da Vaca's 1542 account of the ill-fated expedition. In 1684, Increase Mather (1639-1723), a minister based in Boston, Mass, authored his Remarkable Providences Illustrative of the Earlier Days of American Colonisation. In this work, he provides what is considered the first written account, albeit some 40 years after the event and without eyewitness verification, of a surgical operation performed in the colonies. Mather tells of a child whose skull was pierced by an iron hinge. Within a few weeks, a growth "as big as a small egg" appeared. The child's parent called on the services of a Mr Oliver, an English surgeon who resided in Boston from 1632 to 1644. According to Mather, Oliver "drove the soft matter of the bunch [growth] into the wounds, and pressed so much out as well he could . . . the skull wasted where it was pierced."

Figures in this Article

Sign in

Create a free personal account to sign up for alerts, share articles, and more.

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview

Figures

Place holder to copy figure label and caption

Advertisement from the Boston News-Letter (July 17-24, 1710), which is probably the earliest published account of an elective surgical operation in Colonial America (Massachusetts Historical Society).

Graphic Jump Location

Tables

References

Correspondence

CME
Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Submit a Comment

Multimedia

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Sign in

Create a free personal account to sign up for alerts, share articles, and more.

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles
Jobs
brightcove.createExperiences();