|22. Title: The Influence of Dr Radford Tanzer's World War II Experience On His Contributions to the Field of Plastic Surgery
Joseph M. Rosen, MD1, Sheila Tanzer2.
1Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH, USA, 2Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA.
PURPOSE: To show the influence of Dr Radford Tanzer's war experience on his contributions to the field of plastic surgery.
Radford C. Tanzer was born in 1905 and trained with several pioneer plastic surgeons. As Jerome Webster's first senior fellow at Columbia Presbyterian in 1936, Tanzer learned to pay meticulous attention to detail. Then for several months in early 1939, he watched four master surgeons Gilles, MacIndoe, Kilner and Mowlem operate with superb skill and finesse. From them he said he learned how to do things well and to do them quickly.
METHODS: While serving in the Medical Corp from 1942 - 1946, Tanzer established plastic surgery centers at Bushnell General Hospital and Cushing General Hospital in settings where he treated a wide variety of war injuries.As part of his application to become a founding member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, he submitted twenty-five cases. These war time cases which demonstrated a broad application of problem solving principles he learned from Dr Webster, Sir Harold Gillies and his colleagues. This intensive experience made him a accomplished plastic surgeon, and also left him with some unsolved problems which he continued to think about after his return to the Hitchcock Clinic in 1946.These cases will be reviewed and specific cases that stimulated his later career will be presented as the seeds for his later inventions and contributions in Plastic Surgery.
RESULTS: His gift for devising a creative solution is best exemplified by his approach to the missing external ear. When first confronted with the need to repair a traumatic ear injuries of soldiers, he used cadaver cartilage and was not satisfied with the results. then in 1951 after meeting his first microtia patient, an infant, he began working on the strategy he would use six years later. Working with pencil, paper and drawing boards for several months each evening, he figured out that the ear consists of four seperate planes. He would use a six-step surgical process, taking autologous cartilage from the child's ribs.
CONCLUSION: Tanzer was first stimulated to address the loss of an external ear by his wartime experience. His willingness to take on the challenge of microtia after the war at a time when no satisfactory method existed, lead him to devise his own effective solution. In the year 2005, which marks Rad Tanzer's one hundredth birthday, we recall his rare and creative skill as a surgeon, as well as, his passion for professional excellence. Though he was never conscious of it, what he also left to his friends and colleagues was the legacy of a man who was both great and humble.
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