Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When One Eponym Suffers Another

The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is full of charming and hilarious little gems, usually tucked away in the depths of information overload. I would love to meet the authors of this sanity-saving handbook and shake all of their collective hands (while buying them beers).

Today I came across this entry which I felt the need to share:

In 1931, Buerger's* disease caused gangrene in the toes of Harvey Cushing**--the most cantankerous (and greatest) neurosurgeon ever. He had to be wheeled to the operating theatre to carry on his brilliant art (and to continue terrifying his assistants). He had to retire partially, whereupon his colleagues presented him with a magnificent silver cigarette box, containing 2000 cigarettes (to which he was addicted)--one for each brain tumor he had removed during his long career, so verifying the truth that although we owe everything to our teachers, we must eventually kill them to move out from under their shadow.
-Herman Hesse, Demain

And so there is your CME in obscure medical history for the day.  You're welcome. 

*Buerger's disease (thromboangitis obliterans) is smoking related inflammation of veins, nerves, and middle-sized arteries (which thrombose, causing gangerene). Cause is unknown. Stopping smoking is vital. Most patients are men. 

**Cushing's disease is bilateral adrenal hyperplasia from an ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma. He also is known for Cushing's syndrome, and Cushing's triad...but I think we've learned enough for today.


Grumpy, M.D. said...

Hell, I think about strangling a particular neurosurgeon on at least a daily basis.

Ana11_19 said...

Love that book! And mostly because of things like that. I read somewhere in it...If you are not sure how to do particular procedure (don't remember what it was), call senior, if he's not answering, have a coffee, then go and try again :D

Albinoblackbear said...

Grump-- :) I thought you'd appreciate that post!

Audrey--YES! I actually bring it with me everywhere and when I have a few minutes will seek out the little gems. I haven't seen your example yet but--classic! Love it.