The history of vagotomy

Am J Surg. 1987 Jan;153(1):9-17. doi: 10.1016/0002-9610(87)90195-4.


The anatomic characteristics of the vagus nerve were described by Galen in the second century AD, and its physiology was studied by Pavlov almost a century ago. Therapeutic possibilities of vagal denervation of the stomach was explored by several surgeons in the first quarter of this century. The most auspicious effort was that of Latarjet. The rebirth of vagotomy in 1943 by Dragstedt was based on cumulative new data supporting the concept that vagal denervation should favorably influence the clinical course of duodenal ulcer. This now proved concept renders vagotomy in some form a basic part of all operations for duodenal ulcer. The Dragstedt operation, vagotomy and pyloroplasty, is particularly useful in cases of acute bleeding and obstruction. Vagotomy and antrectomy has the lowest ulcer recurrence rate. Parietal cell vagotomy has the lowest mortality and morbidity rates and is the procedure of choice in patients with uncomplicated, intractable duodenal ulcer.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • United States
  • Vagotomy / history*

Personal name as subject

  • L R Dragstedt