From The Back Table

Myron F. Metzenbaum (1876-1944)


Dr. Myron Firth Metzenbaum: ear, nose and throat specialist, and a national authority in resconstructive surgery was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 1 April 1876.  Educated in the public schools, he went on to graduate with a medical degree from Western Reserve University in 1900. He trained under Dr. George W. Crile at St. Alexis'  Hospital.

He is remembered for his surgical techniques in the reconstruction of the nose and larynx, developing the open-drop method of ether administration, and for his research in the medical application of radium.

  Metzenbaum is also known for designing the surgical scissors which bear his name.

Metzenbaum scissors

William T. Bovie (1882-1958)


William T. Bovie --  inventor, botanist, and  biophysicist,  was born on September 11, 1882 in Augusta, Michigan.  He is best known for his collaboration with Dr. Harvey Cushing in developing the modern day electrosurgical knife, which brought on the age of "bloodless surgery" by allowing a surgeon to both cut and coagulate tissue.   The first Bovie machine was used  on October 1, 1926 at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts by Dr. Cushing to aid in the removal of a highly vascular tumor from a patient's head.  In Cushing's note, he remarked that "with Dr. Bovie's help I proceeded to take off most satisfactorily the remaining portion of tumor with practically one of the bleeding which was occasioned in the preceding operation."

An early floor model Bovie cutting/coagulation apparatus.  Photo courtesy of the



     Bovie never profited from his invention.  He sold his patent for one dollar to the Liebel-Flarsheim Company, which proceeded to manufacture the unit for use in other hospitals.   As you can see from Bovie's patent sketch, the original "bovie" actually had a pistol grip design.

     Bovie is also known for his experiments with radium in the treatment of cancer.   Because of his exposure to radium, Bovie lost a finger and suffered from pain in his hands for the rest of his life.  He died in Fairfield, Maine on January 1, 1958. 

Ancient Version of ScrubDeck

Relief carving of surgical instruments on the Egyptian temple of Kom Ombo  - an ancient version of ScrubDeck? iPads were definitely heavier back then, but you didn't have to recharge them.


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