History of Urology Forum
Presentation Authors: Granville Lloyd*, Denver, CO
Introduction: To share the life and legacy of the great early Chicago Surgeon and Professor Weller Van Hook, including his unrecognized contributions to ureteral surgery.
Methods: Author performed in-person review and photography of Van Hook's personal notebooks, courtesy Galter Special Collections at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine; Google and PubMed.
Results: Van Hook was born in 1862 and grew up in Illinois, the son of a Union Army surgeon (Fig 1). After medical school in Michigan, he returned to Chicago for internship and worked, researched and taught relentlessly. His reputation for kindness and excellence grew rapidly, and eventually he became the third Chairman of Surgery at Northwestern Medical School. A renowned lecturer and surgeon, among his noteworthy work in healing, hernia, infection and reconstruction was his management of ureteral injury and repair, including his 1893 publication in JAMA: "The Surgery of The Ureters..."(Fig 2) and many others. Known as much for his humility and kindness, he implored trainees to take "20 seconds" to say a kind and optimistic word before surgery and "boisterous and confused conversation...are undesirable about a patient who is going to sleep".
Van Hook's groundbreaking work included cutaneous diversion of the injured ureter, a refined technique for uretero-ureterostomy, and invention of the tubularized bladder flap reimplant. This preceded the Italian surgeon Achille Boari, who later performed the flap in a canine model and whose name the operation came to bear. Ironically, when the operation was ultimately performed 50 years later in a human subject by Ockerblad of Kansas City, he noted in his report the canine success of Boari, but not the earlier pioneering work of Van Hook just 500 miles away.
Conclusions: Weller Van Hook made many significant contributions to early Chicago Surgery and Urology, including original concept, trial, and publication of the tubularized bladder flap. His vision, humanism, surgical excellence and academic productivity was a cornerstone of Chicago's ascent to greatness in the world of medicine.
Source of Funding: None