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PENETRATING WOUNDS OF THE HEART:  A ROUTINE OF MANAGEMENT BASED ON A FIVE YEAR PERIOD OF PERSONAL OBSERVATION AND ON FIVE PERSONAL CASES

HARRY NELSON, M.D.
Arch Surg. 1943;47(6):571-582. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1943.01220180057004.
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Although wounds of the heart have been diagnosed almost since prehistoric times, their surgical treatment is less than fifty years old, the first two operations, both unsuccessful, having been performed in 1895. Some twenty years earlier the great Billroth,1 himself a pioneer in many fields of surgery, had written of paracentesis of the pericardium that it approached "very closely to that kind of intervention which some surgeons would term a prostitution of the surgical art and others madness," and had further stated that any surgeon who attempted to suture the living human heart would "lose the respect of his colleagues." In 1896 Stephen Paget2 said flatly that surgery of the heart had "probably reached the limits set by nature to all surgery; no new method and no new discovery canovercome the natural difficulties that attend a wound of the heart." It is ironic that in that same year

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