The first described operation for insulinoma was in an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Dickinson Ober Wheelock. Wheelock was first seen at the Mayo Clinic in 1922 with “stomach trouble” and diagnosed as chronic cholecystitis. He had previously undergone a laparotomy and gastroenterostomy in 1918 for attacks of epigastric pain and ”shock”. He returned to the Mayo Clinic in 1926 with recurrent symptoms.
The tubercle of Zuckerkandl is a distinct anatomical entity that was first described by Emil Zuckerkandl in 1902. The description, and the clinical significance of the tubercle, was lost to endocrine surgeons until the last decade when the tubercle was “rediscovered” by a number of authors.
The first pituitary operation was performed by Victor Horsley, of London, in 1889. Horsley was a general surgeon who pioneered intracranial operations. By 1913 the results of his first four craniotomies were published: all had visual field defects and headaches. One died after six hours, and the other three had serious complications, however they survived between nine months and eight years. At this stage neurosurgeons began to devise extracranial approaches to the pituitary.
The function of the thyroid glands was discovered as a direct result of the effects of total thyroidectomy in man. This soon resulted in a reappraisal of the surgical approach to goitre and the preparation of an active thyroid extract for the relief of hypothyroidism. Theodore Kocher, appointed Professor of Surgery in Berne in 1872, essentially perfected the operation of thyroidectomy and was the first surgeon to be awarded the Nobel Prize.
The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is the international mascot of endocrine surgery. The story behind this relates to the discovery of the parathyroid glands. On 24th May 1834 the Zoological Society of London purchased its first Great Indian Rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis; the commoner African Rhinoceros has two horns. It duly arrived at the Zoo and was a great attraction until it