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History of Medicine |

Sir Arbuthnot Lane, Chronic Intestinal Stasis, and Autointoxication

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Houston, Texas

© 1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1982;96(3):365-369. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-96-3-365
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In the early 1900s, a theory that constipation (stasis) led to systemic dysfunction became popular. Sir Arbuthnot Lane was largely responsible for the popularity of this theory, which was constructed entirely on unfounded hypotheses. As a result, colon bypass or colectomy was done for indications ranging from lassitude to epilepsy. The theory was accepted—although disputed—until the clinical futility of radical surgery was recognized. The favorable acceptance of stasis in its time exemplifies the dangers of medical practice by hypothesis.





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