Published Articles

Saturday, September 1, 1990

Praised by Napoleon as "the worthiest man I ever met," Dominique-Jean Larrey (1766-1842), his legendary surgeon, was born in Beaudean, a little village in the Pyrenees. Orphaned at age 13, he was raised by his uncle, Alexis, who was chief surgeon at Toulouse. After studying and serving as his surgical apprentice for 6 years, Larrey went to Paris. There, he studied under the great French surgeon, Desault, who was Chief of Surgery at the Hotel Dieu. Unfortunately, his studies were interrupted when war came to France.

The young man promptly answered his nation's call and signed up for duty. He was assigned to the frigate Vigilante in the French Navy, but he soon had to resign because of chronic seasickness. He returned to Paris where he worked at both Desault's clinic in the Hotel Dieu and as field surgeon at Les Invalides. By 1790, Larrey had established himself as assistant Senior Surgeon at Les Invalides, and not long after serving in the army, he met Napoleon Bonaparte who was then commander of an artillery brigade.

In 1792, at the time revolutionary France was battling the First Coalition, Larrey became a field doctor with the rank of Major of the Army of the...

Sunday, June 3, 1990

I read with interest the article by Robert J. Coffey, M.D., entitled "International Perspective: Neurological Surgery in Nicaragua." The article was informative in its description of neurological surgery per se, but it was unfortunately saturated with much political propaganda (albeit in a neurological journal), which requires some criticism. First, the practice of medicine (and neurosurgery) would not have been as primitive as it was in Nicaragua in 1989 with the Sandinistas if it wasn't for a misdelegation of priorities. While the people of Nicaragua do not have available a CT scan or MRI, or even the Seldinger catheterization technique for angiography, the Sandinistas had a standing offensive army 300,000 strong (total population: 3.5 million). While they cannot afford a CT scanner to diagnose a patient with a brain tumor (not to mention treatment with radiotherapy), they possess advanced helicopters, "flying tanks," and MIG fighters, which are expensive weapons of destruction beyond what is needed for the defensive needs of a small nation. I have a photograph of my wife holding a surface-to-air missile (SAM-7) that was captured in November 1989 from a downed Nicaraguan...