Nicholas Senn in 1904
October 31, 1844|
|Died||January 2, 1908
|Children||Emanuel John Senn
William Nicholas Senn
|Parent(s)||Johannes and Magdalena Senn|
Nicholas Senn (October 31, 1844 – January 2, 1908) was an American surgeon, instructor, and founder of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. He served as the president of the American Medical Association in 1897–98 and as chief surgeon of the Sixth Army Corps in 1898, seeing service in Cuba during the Spanish–American War. He was involved in experimental research, particularly of acute pancreatitis, plastic surgery, head and neck oncology, the intestinal tract, and the treatment of leukaemia with x-rays.
Early life and education
Senn was born in Sevelen, Switzerland and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1852 when he was eight years old, settling in Ashford, Wisconsin. He graduated from the Chicago Medical College in 1868.
Around 1886, Senn successfully tested the diagnosis of gastrointestinal perforation by inflation with hydrogen gas. Senn used a rubber balloon connected to a rubber tube inserted in his anus to pump 4 US gallons (15 L) of hydrogen gas into his intestinal tract. An assistant sealed the tube by squeezing the anus against it. The hydrogen was inserted by squeezing the balloon while monitoring the pressure on a manometer. Senn had previously carried out this experiment on dogs to the point of rupturing the intestine.
In 1891, he founded the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States and served as its president for the first two years.
After 1893, he was attending surgeon at the Presbyterian Hospital and surgeon-in-chief of Saint Joseph's Hospital, as well as a professor of surgery at the Chicago Polyclinic and a lecturer on military surgery at the University of Chicago.
In 1898, following the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, he was appointed as chief surgeon of the United States Sixth Army Corps with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and chief of staff, and was involved in the Siege of Santiago in 1900.
Sometime during his career, he was also Surgeon General of the National Guard of Illinois and Wisconsin, and founded the Association of Military Surgeons of the State of Illinois, which he presided over until his death.
Senn published 25 books as well as numerous papers and essays during his career, including the 1886 paper Surgery of the pancreas as based upon experiments and clinical research, and the books Four Months Among the Surgeons of Europe and the Nurse's Guide for the Operating Room.
Throughout his career, Senn amassed a collection of 10,000 volumes and 14,000 pamphlets and articles dating from the 1500s onwards on medicine and surgery, which has been stored in the John Crerar Library. He also purchased the 7,000 volume collection of old and rare medical books left by a prominent doctor in Germany and donated the materials to the Newberry Library.
Senn is the namesake for Senn High School in Chicago, which was named for him on March 20, 1909 following his death. Senn is also known for saying "The fate of the wounded rests with the one who applies the first dressing" in 1897.
- Smith, D.C. (1999). "Nicholas Senn and the origins of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States". Military medicine. 164 (4): 243–6. PMID 10226447.
- "Who was Nicholas Senn?". Senn Friends Forever Alumni of Nicholas Senn High School. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "Full List of Annual Meetings and Presidents". Full List of Annual Meetings and Presidents. American Medical Association. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Behncke, F.H. (1996). Pioneer Teachers. Health Research Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7873-0087-6. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Howard, John M.; Hess, Walter (6 Dec 2012). History of the Pancreas: Mysteries of a Hidden Organ. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 315–317. ISBN 978-1-4615-0555-6. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "The Nicholas Senn Club Dinner, (1906)". American College of Surgeons. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "Dr. Nicholas Senn – the Man". Edgewater Historical Society. 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- James E. Pilcher, "Senn on the diagnosis of gastro-intestinal perforation by the rectal insuffation of hydrogen", Annals of Surgery, vol. 8, iss. 3, pp. 190–204, September 1888.
- "ASA: History of the ASA: Past Officers". American Surgical Association. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Schwartz, Richard B.; McManus, John G.; Swienton, Raymond E. (2008). Tactical Emergency Medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-7817-7332-4. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
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- Rush Medical College History at www.rushu.rush.edu