Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/454

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SPENCER


400


SPENCER


This was attrihutuble to the great care witli which he prepared his patient; to freedom in the use of soap and water, rendering both himself and patient as nearly aseptic as pos8il)Ie, and to the care of his patients after operation. He used in his operations a solution of creo- sote in alcohol, an excellent antiseptic. His operations of all kinds were well done, and generally successful, and his i)rog- noses of traumatisms seldom erred.

He paid special attention to lithotomy, discarding lithotrity as not comparable in results, a conclusion arrived at only after a thorough trial of both operations. He .spent much time practising the crush- ing oj)eration upon the cadaver while in Paris, and possessed a fine set of instru- ments. He did the operation of lateral lithotomy twenty-nine times, losing only his first two patients. Less than a year before his death, he operated successfully upon an eight-year-old boy, removing a calculus weighing 580 grains. He pro- tested against the use of the catheter after operation, and tying the legs to- gether awaited the passage of urine by the natural channel.

His reputation as a lithotomist was very extended, indeed, almost world- wide, which fact and a similar one in the case of his greater surgical co-temporary. Dr. J. P. Mettauer, show what a positon may be obtained in a provincial town, or even in a small village, unaided by metro- politan or academic advantages. He was far ahead of lus time in the use of both asepsis and antisepsis without knowing it. His practice extended over southside Virginia and far into North Carolina, and his name was a household word, and his word the law in things surgical.

He never married, although a great beau, and assiduovis in his attentions to ladies, esjDecially young ladies.

He died in Petersburg on the fifteenth of January, 1860, in the sixty-seventh year of his age.

So far as I have been able to discover the following articles are all that he contributed to medical literature:

"A Case of Calculus successfully


treated b}' Lithotrity." ("American Journal Medical Sciences," 1832.)

" Report of the Successful Removal of an I'^normous Tumor of the Neck." C'.Vmerican Journal Medical Sciences," 1844.)

"Case of Irritable Uterus." ("The Stethoscope," vol. i, April, 1851.)

" Report of Fifteen Cases of Lithot- omy. " (" The Stethoscope," vol. i.)

"Empyema Successfully Treated by Paracentesis Thoracis." (" Virginia Med- ical and Surgical Journal," vol. iv.)

" Results of Twenty-four Operations for Lithotomy." (" Virginia Medical and Surgical Journal," vol. iv.)

" Report of Twelve Cases of Lithot- omy."

R. M. S.

M.iryland and Virg. M. J., Richmond,

1S60, xiv.

X. \m. M. and Chir. Rev., Phila,, 1860, iv.

Spencer, Thomas (1793-1857).

Thomas Spencer was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, October 22, 1793. His father, Eliphalet Spencer, wheelwright, w^as a man of more than ordinary intellectual strength and phy- sical energy who served during the Revolutionary War in the Connecticut regiment, and fought at the battle of Saratoga, and witnessed the sm-- render of Bm-goyne. An elder brother taught Spencer arithmetic and in 1806 he had three months' schooling for the purpose of studying English grammar, and never forgot the mortification of be- ing outstripped by one of the school girls somewhat older than himself.

^Vllen nineteen he w-as taught survey- ing by his brother. Gen. Ichabod Spencer, and about the same time began to study medicine with Dr. Dix, of Delplii. By his surveying and school teaching, he was enabled to earn the fees for liis medical course, and in 1816 received a license to practise from the Medical Society of the County of Herkimer.

Dr. Spencer at once began to practise in the tow^n of Lenox. He was elected to the several offices of the Medical Society