Morphine: History notes
Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 1:11 pm
William Halstead was a founder of Johns Hopkins University, and the inventor of the radical mastectomy (removal of the breast). Halstead was also the first American surgeon to investigate cocaine as a local anaesthetic, a painkiller applied directly to the wound or other source of pain. Unfortunately, Halstead took his work home with him.
Cocaine addiction repeatedly interrupted his career, and he had to take leaves of absence and check in to hospitals to fight it. By the time he joined the faculty at Hopkins, in 1889, he had managed to overcome cocaine with the aid of morphine.
Halstead continued to abuse morphine until his death in 1922, yet managed to develop many new surgical techniques; advance the use of aseptic practice in surgery; and train a set of physician-scholars who in turn trained others.