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Medical Quiz #14 – Answers

by Suzanne Daniluk, RN on October 4th, 2012

True or false?

1.   A surgeon removed his own appendix.

True.  In 1921 at age 60, Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane performed a DIY appendectomy under local anesthesia, simply to prove it could be done.   Next he repaired his own hernia at age 70, although with another surgeon present.

2.  A resident performed a cardiac catheterization on himself.

True. Displaying both extreme bravery and a complete disregard for his health, the inventor of cardiac catheterization Dr. Werner Forssman, who was a surgical resident at the time, threaded a catheter from his own antecubital vein approximately two feet into his heart, and then walked (yes, walked) to x-ray to confirm the catheter’s position.  Fired from his training program, Dr. Forssman went on to become co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1956.

3.  An intern ate an infected patient’s vomit to prove a disease was not contagious.

True. The unusually-named Stubbins Ffirth (1784-1820), a medical trainee, wanted to show that Yellow Fever was not contagious and did so by ingesting/inserting various bodily fluids of infected patients without becoming ill. Colleagues who observed his experiments, however, probably weren’t as fortunate. The mosquito link to the disease would be found over sixty years later.

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