Friday, 18 April 2014

Notes on Sir Harold Stiles

This week’s blog sheds some light on pioneering Edinburgh surgeon Professor Sir Harold Jalland Stiles, 1863-1946. One of the third generation of East Lincolnshire doctors, Harold was told by his father that his older brother would succeed him into the family practice, therefore if he too wanted to be a doctor he would have to seek his own career. Successfully passing his preliminary exams, Stiles moved to Edinburgh in 1880, having become heir to dissecting arm, leg, head and neck specimens from his grandfather!

Graduating in 1885 with first class honours as the most distinguished student of his year, Stiles became the Edinburgh University assistant to Professor John Chiene for the next nine years. Stiles was appointed surgeon to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children from 1898-19 and also assistant surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. A disciple of Joseph Lister’s school of medicine in regard to antiseptics, Stiles is believed to be the first to introduce aseptic surgery to Edinburgh.

Important areas of Stiles’ work included pathology, anatomy, studies into breast cancer, hydrocephalus and tuberculosis, a main source which he concluded was the bovine tubercle bacillus. Therefore, to control the spread of tuberculosis he advocated regulating milk supplies. Stiles is also now recorded as being the first to carry out a pyloromyotomy operation as treatment for the congenital condition, pyloric stenosis in 1910, although the name of this operation was given to another surgeon, Rammstedt.

During the First World War, Stiles organised the orthopaedic department of Bangour Hospital, where he also branched out into studies of the peripheral nerves. He was knighted for his services in 1918. He was appointed to the Chair of Clinical Surgery at the Royal Infirmary in 1919 and became surgeon to King George V in Scotland for the period 1923-1925. He retired, quite abruptly to his home in Gullane in 1925 where he studied natural sciences, including geology and the flora and fauna of East Lothian until his death in 1946.

LHSA’s main records relating to Stiles are a collection of over 3400 case notes dating back to 1906. They remain of great interest, particularly due to Stiles’ pioneering activities. image
P\PLI\NI\030 Professor Stiles in about 1920.

Reference: Ross, James A, The Edinburgh School of Surgery After Lister, Churchill Livingstone, 1978

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