Sunday, December 20, 2009

Harvey Cushing

A bit more about Dr. Harvey Cushing’s life from

In his biography of Cleveland native Harvey Cushing, John Fulton describes the fortuitous series of circumstances that conspired to create the specialty of neurological surgery.

The compulsive and competitive Dr Cushing trained as a surgeon under the precise tutelage of William Hallsted. On the recommendation of his friend and mentor, William Osler, Cushing spent the year following completion of his surgical residency traveling Europe. It was then, under the guidance of Professor Theodor Kocher in the laboratory of Professor Hugo Kronecker in Berne, Switzerland, that Cushing described the relationship between intracranial pressure and systemic blood pressure regulated by the vasomotor center in the medulla that would ultimately be known as the ‘Cushing reflex’. Prior to this time, vital signs (and in particular blood pressure) were not routinely charted during surgical procedures. Cushing continued his experiments as he toured Europe, performing studies in dogs in Professor Angelo Mosso’s laboratory in Turin, Italy. While in Italy, Cushing was serendipitously introduced to Scipione Riva-Rocci’s elegantly simple sphygmomanometer, which he promptly recognized as a significant addition to the operating room.

Upon his return home the combination of his compulsive personality, watchful (albeit indirect) management of systemic and intracranial pressure, and career-long obsession with hemostasis
(Cushing developed the silver hemoclip, and, with physicist W Bovie, introduced electrocoagulation) precipitated the beginning of neurosurgical practice.

There is more information about Dr Cushing here: