Forgotten pioneers of pancreatic surgery: Beyond the favorite few

Thomas Schnelldorfer, David B. Adams, Andrew L. Warshaw, Keith D. Lillemoe, Michael G. Sarr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In 1902 Benjamin Tilton described in this journal pancreatic operations as follows: "The deep location of the organ, its immobility, and its close proximity to very important structures makes such operations most difficult and dangerous ... Incision of the gland itself, enucleation of a tumor or partial removal are all difficult and bloody ..." Allen Whipple wrote in 1935, also in this journal: "... previous attempts at radical removal of carcinoma of the papilla of Vater and the head of pancreas ... made it such a hazardous procedure as to be prohibitive in the minds of even the ablest surgeons." Despite these grim and nihilistic views, there were bold and talented individuals who dared to explore the frontiers of pancreatic surgery. The advances were not the product of a single surgeon, but rather the incremental development of techniques guided by accumulated knowledge, often built on single case experiences. Many of the pioneering surgeons who were an integral part of the chain of knowledge which led to modern operations have been forgotten or at least remain unacknowledged in our surgical lore. This review pays tribute to their accomplishments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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