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Semin Pediatr Surg. 2006 Nov;15(4):237-41.

What is surgery?

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Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5784, USA. <>


Progress in surgical science has been characterized by a continuous cycle of innovation from bedside to bench to bedside. Beginning 30,000 years ago with the first bone needles to surgical lasers and robotics of today, each quantum leap has resulted from the convergence of technical advances and creative surgeons, but always defined by an attitude of care toward the sick. One of the most innovative pediatric surgeons, Dr. Mark Ravitch, elucidated some simple yet profound principles in the precise answer to the question "What is Surgery?" This section outlines some simple concepts summarized as "Ravitch's Rules," which provide a useful framework for clarity in understanding the past and illuminating the road ahead. Surgeons must be thoughtful in how they define themselves and their craft, ignoring technological advances at their own peril.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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