Amnesia in modern surgery: revisiting Wangensteen’s landmark studies of small bowel obstruction

Amnesia in modern surgery: revisiting Wangensteen’s landmark studies of small bowel obstruction

Can J Surg 2015;58(2):83-84 | PDF

Andrea Faryniuk, MD; Allan MacDonald, MD; Paul van Boxel, MD

Summary

Before the publications of Owen Wangensteen and his colleagues in the early 1930s, bowel obstruction was almost always fatal, and its treatment was ineffectual. Patients rarely survived surgical attempts to relieve the obstruction. Although other investigators were active in the field, the understanding of the pathophysiology of obstruction belongs almost entirely to Wangensteen. In this commentary, we review Wangensteen’s landmark studies of small bowel obstruction and how they shaped the treatment of this condition.


Accepted for publication Sept. 17, 2014

Affiliations: From the Department of Surgery, Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre (Faryniuk, van Boxel), and the Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University (Faryniuk, MacDonald, van Boxel), Halifax, NS.

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception and design and writing of the manuscript and revised and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.010814

Correspondence to: A. Faryniuk, Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, 19428 Hwy 2, RR # 6, Upper Nepean, NS, B4H 1N6; faryniuk.andrea@gmail.com