University of Minnesota. Dept. of Surgery.
The Department of Surgery was established in 1904 under the direction of James E. Moore (1904-1919). Arthur C. Strachauer who headed the department until 1925 succeeded him. Owen H. Wangensteen assumed the responsibilities for the department in 1926 although he did not officially receive the appointment until 1930. Very few documents exist for the early years of the department. It was not until 1941 that correspondence files were retained.
Owen Harding Wangensteen was born on a farm near Lake Park, Minnesota on September 21, 1898. Although he enjoyed farming, his father urged him to go to Medical School. He entered the University of Minnesota and received his medical degree in 1922 and a Ph.D. in 1925. Until he was appointed head of the Surgery Department he studied surgery in Switzerland in 1927 and 1928.
Wangensteen established a flexible program of training for surgeons that involved 1 to 3 years of training in the laboratory where research skills were developed. Creativity and innovation was encouraged as Wangensteen was keenly interested in developing new methods and better surgical tools.
During Wangensteen's administration, affiliations were formed with a number of local hospitals. This enabled him to expose his students to a broader range of surgical experience than could be given at University Hospital as well as accommodate more interns. The head of surgery in each hospital held a faculty position. These affiliations included the Veterans' Hospital, Mount Sinai, and Ancker Hospital.
Primarily a gastrointestinal surgeon, the collection most thoroughly documents his research efforts such as the Wangensteen gastric tube and the use of gastric hypothermia to treat peptic ulcers. During the period, cancer patients relied on surgery as a treatment for tumors. Wangensteen performed or directed a number of radical operations for cancer including the "second look" program in which a patient would undergo a second operation after a period of years to determine if the cancer was gone. Wangensteen established one of the early cancer detection centers at the University in 1947.
An ongoing concern of Wangensteen and his colleagues was the extent to which surgeons could treat private patients in the University Hospital. The hospital was established for those who would be otherwise unable to pay for their treatment. The extent to which surgeons and other doctors could treat patients was a problem to which the Medical School gave a great deal of attention and policy was created to deal with the matter. The Baker Fund was set up as the means to collect private practice medical fees and make them available for research projects.
The most remarkable work done during this period was in cardiac surgery. C. Walton Lillehei did the first successful open heart surgery in 1952. Clarence Dennis, who developed the heart-lung machine, and Richard DeWall, who invented the bubble oxygenerator, were other members of the team. One of Lillehei's students, Christian Barnard, performed the first heart transplant.
Owen H. Wangensteen retired as Head of Surgery in 1967. A few years before his retirement Wangensteen contracted a debilitating disorder that ended his ability to do surgery. With the assistance of his wife, Sarah (Sally), he developed his strong interest in the history of medicine. Through his interest and energy the History of Medicine Collection in the Bio-Medical Library was established and a chair was created for a Professorship in the History of Medicine.
After his retirement, Wangensteen concentrated his research interests in the history of medicine. He died on January 13, 1981. His successor as Head of Surgery was John Najarian.
From the guide to the Papers of the University of Minnesota Department of Surgery, 1927-1968, (University of Minnesota Libraries. University of Minnesota Archives [uarc])
|referencedIn||James Edward Moore papers, 1882-1930||University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]|
|creatorOf||University of Minnesota. Dept. of Surgery. Papers of the University of Minnesota Department of Surgery, 1927-1968.||University of Minnesota, Minneapolis|
|creatorOf||Papers of the University of Minnesota Department of Surgery, 1927-1968||University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Surgical instruments and apparatus|
|Hypnotism in surgery|
|World War, 1939-1945--Hospitals|
|Surgery--Study and teaching|
|World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives|
|World War, 1939-1945--Medical care|