Publication information

Buffalo Review
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Dr. Lee Describes Momentous Operation”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Buffalo, New York
Date of publication: 9 September 1901
Volume number: 19
Issue number: 80
Pagination: 7

“Dr. Lee Describes Momentous Operation.” Buffalo Review 9 Sept. 1901 v19n80: p. 7.
full text
Edward Wallace Lee (public statements); William McKinley (surgery); William McKinley (medical condition).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Edward Wallace Lee; Matthew D. Mann.

Dr. Lee Describes Momentous Operation


Says Czolgosz’s Bullet Has Done Its Worst Work and Need Not Necessarily Be Found.

     Dr. Edward Wallace Lee of St. Louis, who assisted at the operation in the Pan-American Hospital, went to New York Friday night at 11:20. He returned yesterday and started at 2 o’clock for St. Louis.
     Dr. Lee describes the momentous operation as follows:
     “Dr. Mann then took charge, and the flesh was cleaned by shaving and by antiseptic solutions. The President was then put under the influence of anaesthetics, which acted promptly and satisfactorily. An incision was then made in the abdomen, through the aperture made by the bullet, about four and one-half inches long. Through this opening the stomach was drawn, and on examination it was found that the bullet had passed straight through this organ. As the President had had a hearty luncheon between 1 and 2 o’clock, the stomach was partly filled with undigested food. This had oozed through the holes in the stomach to a certain extent and run down into the abdominal cavity. Since the abdomen is inclosed in a lining known as the peritoneum, this lining had also been perforated by the bullet.
     “The bullet could not be found. Accordingly, the abdominal cavity was washed clean with antiseptic solutions, and all possible care taken to destroy any infectious germs.
     “The holes in the stomach were ugly ones, and the posterior hole was much more jagged and torn than the one in front, through which the bullet passed first. This I consider a most serious matter, although to be expected, since the bullet had spent some of its force by the time it had reached the further side of the stomach, and thus tore rather than pierced its way through.
     “After repeated bathing of the wounded parts with antiseptic lotions the apertures in the stomach were sewed together with silk-worm gut sutures.
     “The external wound was then carefully dressed with an antiseptic bath, and a wide abdominal binding was applied. The body was then wrapped in sheets, around which blankets were folded, and the President was placed in the ambulance.”
     “From the bulletins that you have seen,” he was asked, “do you think the President has improved since the operation?”
     “I do not,” was the answer.
     “What leads you to that opinion?”
     “The President’s high temperature,” was the reply. “I learn this afternoon that it is 102. This would indicate a dangerous condition.”
     “It has been said that a crisis has been reached.”
     “There has been no crisis yet. Because of the character of the wound, the recovery or the decline is gradual. It will take time to determine what will be the ultimate results of the wound.”
     “Is there not danger of peritonitis?”
     “There is always danger of peritonitis where there is a perforation of the peritoneum. This membrane lines the abdominal cavity, but its perforation does not necessarily imply peritonitis, which is simply the inflammation of this tissue. There were several sources of danger of peritonitis, the ooze from the stomach, the bullet, the bits of clothing, and the possibility of poison on the ball, but I think the decrease in temperature offsets that.”
     “Do you consider the inability to find the bullet as fatal?”
     “I do not. It does not make so much difference now about the bullet. Men have been known to live for years with bullets in them. The bullet of Czolgosz has done the worst of its work already.”