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James Hayes' Tumor

James Hayes' Tumor
James Hayes' Tumor

Operating Theatre
America's oldest operating theater at Pennsylvania Hospital

It was Christmas Day 1805 and the circular operating theater at Pennsylvania Hospital was jammed with 80 medical students. They had come to see America's most renowned surgeon, Dr. Philip Syng Physick, remove an enormous tumor from the neck and cheek of James Hayes of rural Dauphin County, Pa. The tumor had been growing there for 20 years. The tumor — referred to as a wen — was now 25-1/2 inches in circumference at its largest point; it weighed in at seven pounds. The wen was removed by the great surgeon and placed in a jar of alcohol. It can be seen today in the Pennsylvania Hospital's historic library. In 1924, a hospital pathologist examined microscopic slices of the tumor and reported that the wen was "a mixed tumor involving the parotid gland and adjacent tissue."

After visiting Hayes tumor, sit in America's oldest operating theater, also at the Hospital, and head over to Dr. Physick's house on 4th Street, which has a display of his medical instruments.

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