• U.S.

Medicine: Patching

3 minute read

Among topics discussed at the Southern Medical Association, which met in Oklahoma City last week, were three interesting means of patching damaged human bodies:

Fingers-from Toes. Dr. Herbert van Heekeren Thatcher of Portland, Ore., told his colleagues how he mends severed finger tendons without impairing the grasping function of the hand. First he slips a stainless steel rod, three-sevenths of an inch in diameter and curved to fit the natural bend of the finger, into the narrow sheath which encloses the torn tendon.

After three weeks he cuts a section of tendon from a toe or wrist, transplants one end inside the fingertip, ties the other to a notch in the steel rod, gradually withdraws the rod through the finger, pulling the new tendon into the sheath—a process like that used by any woman in pulling an elastic through a hem. Finally Dr.

Thatcher stitches the bottom of the new finger tendon to the large master tendon in the palm of the hand. With careful exercise, said Dr. Thatcher, natural flexion is usually re-established within six weeks.

Snuff for Ulcers. Peptic ulcers are erosions of the wall of the stomach or duodenum caused by excessive secretion of pepsin, hydrochloric acid and other powerful digestive juices. Dr. Matthew Hill Metz and Robert W. Lackey, Ph.D., of Baylor University, Dallas, Texas, reported that they had healed 55 out of 60 peptic ulcers by giving the patients two-thirds of a grain of powder, ground” from dried pituitary glands of cattle, to sniff four times a day. Injections of pituitary extract directly into the blood stream were tried at first, but they caused disagreeable reactions. Inhalation resulted in slower absorption, no unfavorable reactions.

Theory of treatment: pituitary powder speeds up activity of the blood stream, stimulates metabolism (tissue change) and thus brings about quick healing of raw surfaces. Stomach pains disappeared in many cases at the end of four days, said the doctors, and within a month X-ray examinations showed that the ulcers had disappeared.

Wired Heads. Persons with broken necks have to keep their heads up so that their fractured vertebrae will grow together in normal alignment. Ordinarily, tight steel collars are used to extend broken necks, but they are uncomfortable, interfere with sleeping, eating, bathing. Dr.

Ralph Marion Stuck of Denver, Colo, described a device which he has used for a year with success: He drills two holes in the skull just above the hairline, halfway through the bone. Then he fastens the sharp ends of a pair of surgical ice tongs into the holes.

The “handle” ends are attached to a wire which runs through a pulley at the head of the bed. Weights varying from five to 30 lb., according to the amount of tension needed, are attached to the end of the wire or rope, thus pulling the head upward and backward, keeping the vertebrae slightly apart. Patients can move freely in bed, can eat and sleep in normal positions. Installation of the tongs is not at all painful, for the skull is almost completely insensitive.

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