The group of historical volumes now in preparation upon theactivities of the United States Army Medical Department in World War IIconstitutes the third series of such works devoted to recording the formalhistory of that department under war conditions. The first such series,published over the years 1870-88, comprisedsix ponderous tomes, three of medicine and three of surgery, which appearedunder the title Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion.The second,following World War I, embraced fifteen volumes published in seventeen parts (1921-29).This series wasentitled History ofthe Medical Departmentof the United States Army in the World War. Twovolumes of the seventeen dealt with surgical matters.
The present treatise, Vascular Surgery, is among the first ofthe third series to receive publication. It will offer mute but convincingtestimony to the vast progress recently recorded in the field whereof it treats.Not that vascular surgery, per se, is a new phenomenon. In its simplest form,ligation, it was practiced in the American Civil War on a great many moreoccasions than is generally known.Thus, in 672 recordedoperations for wounds of the face alone, no less than 69involved ligation of an artery or vein-the common carotid artery figuringin 55 of these. Based on cases whose dispositions wereknown, mortality for the entire series was 65 percent, forcases involving the common carotid about 72 percent, andbut 6 of the 65 patientsoperated upon (3 of these, common carotid cases) were later able to return to duty.
Despite the amount of space accorded other surgicalspecialties in our World War I medical history (e.g., 535pages on neurosurgery in one of the surgicalvolumes), vascular surgery is there dismissed with a single paragraph. As aresult, the meteoric expansion of activity in that field to the point where itsadequate discussion in World War II records calls for an entire volume, becomesespecially significant. Truly, vascular surgery has come of age.
GEORGE E. ARMSTRONG
Major General, United States Army
The Surgeon General