Surgery stories

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Harvey Cushing

Pisarz, mówca, neurochirurg

Life histories

For Harvey Cushing, the choice of a field of his study was completely natural, since he descended from a family of doctors for three generations in a row. His scientific output is one of the greatest in the history of surgery, and he made his first discoveries as early as during his studies at Harvard University. He quickly chose the career path and devoted himself to the study of neurosurgery.


Harvey spent many hours practising manual skills. Brain is a unique tissue, the operating of which requires great precision. And, as you can guess, he did not have any opportunity to practise on special pads at home. Despite the difficulties in gaining experience, he was the first person to discover the correlation between intracranial pressure and arterial blood pressure, describing the Cushing reflex. He was not afraid of new solutions and he began to use X-rays as early as a year after their discovery.

Cushing reflex.

He was particularly interested in pituitary tumours, performing and scrupulously describing over two thousand cases of brain tumour excision. Though he introduced innovative operational methods, making it possible to control bleeding from small cerebral vessels or nerve stitching, he devoted much attention to hormone management. This interdisciplinary approach resulted in the description of the Cushing reflex, one of the most frequent endocrinological complaints.

Writer and speaker.

During his lectures, he entertained his audience, during his classes at the university he educated worthy successors. Interestingly, Cushing used a pen as well as a scalpel. In 1925, he received a Pulitzer award for the biography of his mentor, William Osler.

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