Medicine: Capsules, Oct. 8, 1956

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¶Except for accidents, war wounds and inborn deformities, surgery is on the way out, said one of Europe's most noted surgeons, Dr. Francois Ody of Geneva. "The great masters of the scalpel, admired by my generation, will soon become legendary figures," he prophesied. "Hundreds of instruments will be discarded. No more operating tables, diathermic knives and anesthesia installations ... no more operative shock, no more anguish, no more pain." This revolution will be wrought, Dr. Ody believes, by improved internal medication — "All the victories which have been the pride of brilliant surgeons will be forgotten on the day when a medical genius, a laboratory man, chemist or physician discovers the substance which, in the form of a capsule, will capture the sources of energy that will bring recovery within hours." ¶Among children who have received the full course of three spaced shots of the Salk polio vaccine, not one death from the disease has been reported this year, said the U.S. Public Health Service.

¶Though meprobamate (brand-named Miltown and Equanil) has been hailed as least dangerous of the ataraxic drugs (TIME. Feb. 27), there are still a few patients for whom it can be harmful, warned Seattle Psychiatrist Frederick Lemere. It can be habit-forming because patients become dependent on it and re quire ever-increasing doses, and they show severe withdrawal symptoms when it is discontinued.

¶Professional experts argue whether drastic brain surgery (such as lobotomy) is justified in severe mental illness. Two British psychiatrists decided to ask the patients themselves and their relatives. Of 103 patients, 66 were glad to have had the operation, 23 had no opinion, eleven regretted it, and three thought it a great mistake. Among 93 relatives reached, 72 rated the patient better off, ten un changed, eleven thought him worse.

¶Researchers in Boston and Chicago re ported that aged patients suffering from mental deterioration, apathy and fatigue could (in two-thirds of the cases) be brought back to greater alertness and more normal social behavior after swigging "ger iatric cocktails" containing L-Glutavite, a combination of vitamins, minerals and monosodium glutamate.