A cure for Neurological ills! Circumcision and Dr Lewis A Sayre.
BAUS ePoster online library. Shillito S. Jun 25, 2019; 259558; P6-4
Samuel Shillito
Samuel Shillito
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Circumcision has been practiced for millennia. In 1865 a UK paper linked circumcision with improvement in neurological conditions. This paper did not alter circumcision practice. In the USA, the experience was radically different and the reason for this was Dr Sayre.
Online search engines were used to identify significant trends in circumcision as practiced in the western world and individuals leading such changes. The sentinel figure was Dr Sayre (1820-1900).
He qualified in 1842 in Lexington Virginia and immediately appointed as a Surgeon. In 1861 he co-founded Bellevue Hospital in New York and became Professor of Orthopaedics (first in USA). He was hugely influential in Orthopaedics and Public Health. He led the New York Academy of Medicine and by 1866 was vice-president of the American Medical Association.
This pre-eminence placed him in a position to dramatically influence circumcision. The catalyst was James Marion Sims. In early 1870, Dr Sims was asked to review a boy with inability to walk (? limb contractures). Dr Sayre diagnosed muscle paralysis but as a significant phimosis was the only pathology he performed a circumcision. A dramatic response led him to champion circumcision for neurological disease. This he did zealously until his death.
After his death doubt arose as to the benefits of circumcision in non-urological disease. However, perceived public health benefits led to its embedding into US culture.
Dr Sayre has been described as a founding father of US Orthopaedics. He could equally be labelled as the patron saint of Circumcision.
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