Symposium on the History of Surgical Innovation

Symposium on the History of Surgical Innovation
In recognition of the contributions of Dr. Marc Asher, Distinguished Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center.

Friday, September 6 - 8, 2013
Dept. of History and Philosophy of Medicine
University of Kansas School of Medicine
The Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine with the support of the KU Endowment Association will host an international group of historians working on questions related to the history of surgical innovation. The proceedings open Friday evening with the annual Stanley Friesen Lecture in the History of Surgery to be delivered as the keynote of the symposium by Professor Thomas Schlich of McGill University speaking on "Roads not Taken": Alternative Innovation in Surgery.

In a round-table workshop over the next two days, the invited participants will present papers examining the introduction of surgical techniques, approaches, and instruments into practice, illustrating the mechanisms of innovation specific to surgery. For example, manual skills have played a major role in surgical innovation, with accompanying concern for the transmission of skills and the nature of the learning curve.  Because of the obvious hazards involved, questions of risk and safety weigh heavily in the evaluation of new surgical techniques and have influenced debate over the proper boundary between therapy and experiment in surgery. At the same time, the measurement and appraisal of surgical effects have been dominated by distinctive criteria. For example, surgeons have tended to privilege visible structural changes and short-term consequences over long-term outcomes. Surgeons have been correspondingly cautious in the use of the conventional model of randomized, controlled trials to evaluate novel procedures. Examination of these factors will serve to map the crossing paths of surgical innovation and to examine historically specific ways of defining therapeutic success and failure. Participants in the seminar will help to broaden and enrich conventional histories of the production of therapeutic knowledge in medicine.

Preliminary Schedule
Friday, September 6
Welcome reception 4:00 - 4:30
Keynote address Stanley Friesen Lecture in the History of Surgery 4:30 - 5:30
Thomas Schlich, McGill University, "Roads not Taken": Alternative Innovation in Surgery"

Saturday, September 7
Three papers on technology and technique:  9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Nicholas Whitfield, McGill University, Minimally Invasive Surgery: A Case Study in the History of Innovation
Ramona Braun, Cambridge University, Needle and tweezers: theory and intervention in laparoscopic ovarian surgery and IVF (1960s-70s)
David Jones, Harvard University and Harvard Medical School, On the Origins of Therapies: The Case of Myocardial Revascularization 

Lunch and break 12:30 - 1:30 pm

Three papers on societal context 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Beth Linker, University of Pennsylvania, Spines of Steel: The Technoscience of Implantable Devices to Cure Scoliosis
Chris Crenner, University of Kansas Medical Center, The Fall and Rise of Sham Surgery for Placebo Control of Surgical Trials
Delia Gavrus, McGill University, Neurosurgical Innovation in Criminology

Sunday, September 8
Two papers on foundational nineteenth-century practices 9:00 am - 11:00 pm
Jim Edmonson, Chief Curator, Dittrick Medical History Center, College of Arts and Sciences , Case Western Reserve University The Transformation of Surgical Instruments in Response to Antisepsis and Asepsis, ca. 1880-1900]
Sally Frampton, University College London, Defining Difference in Nineteenth-Century Surgery: The Example of Ovariotomy


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