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Surgical Reminiscences |

Good Cheer!

Robb H. Rutledge, MD
Arch Surg. 2000;135(9):1116-1118. doi:10.1001/archsurg.135.9.1116.
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EARLY IN the evening on October 19, 1956, Margaret Curtin came to the emergency ward at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (MGH), because of 15 hours of abdominal pain. She had rheumatic heart disease with auricular fibrillation and mitral stenosis, and had suffered a small stroke a week earlier. We were already swamped with surgical patients: an incarcerated hernia, appendicitis, a ruptured spleen, bilateral popliteal emboli, and an 18% third-degree burn. Another 10 hours passed before Mrs Curtin went into the operating room. Her abdomen was opened. The entire small bowel was blue-gray and pulseless. The colon was normal. The main superior mesenteric artery was exposed near the Treitz ligament. There was no pulse. The artery was opened and a large embolus gushed out. The artery was closed. The bowel became pink and a loud, joyous, spontaneous cheer filled the operating room. The abdomen was closed, and a second-look laparotomy the next day revealed that all of the intestine remained viable.

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Figure 1.

Visiting surgeons at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, in the 1950s. Front row, left to right, Dr Grantley W. Taylor, Dr Edward D. Churchill (chief), Dr Joe V. Meigs, and Dr Leland S. McKittrick. Back row, left to right, Dr Richard H. Sweet, Dr Robert R. Linton, Dr Claude E. Welch, Dr Marshall K. Bartlett, and Dr Oliver Cope (photograph is courtesy of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston).

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Figure 2.

The author (left) is assisting Dr George L. Nardi (right) in the summer of 1949 (photograph is courtesy of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston).

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Figure 3.

Dr William R. Waddell circa 1960 (photograph is courtesy of Dr Tom Starzl).

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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.
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