A tribute to
Dr Harvey Cushing
Also a little about the pituitary & other hormones
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Jesus said "The first aspect of the word is faith. The 2nd is love. And the third is works... and from these come life"
Dr Harvey Cushing, the most famous of neuro surgeons working on diseases caused by the pituitary gland would draw detailed sketches after each surgery
Dr Harvey Cushing, "The Pituitary Body and Its Disorders: Clinical States Produced By Disorders of the Hypophysis Cerebri"
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1912. Cushing’s copy of the first printing.
The picture in this ground breaking book above is, of course, of the problem of "giantism" which we now know is due to excess growth hormone.
Dr Cushings perfroming brain surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical. It was at this time ... in the early 1900's that the practice of wearing surgical gloves began...an innovation started at Johns Hopkins.
Time out to serve in the medical corp at a French Surgical Station in 1917 I'm sure he got lot's of experience doing surgery on head wounds during this brutal war.
Dr Cushing in the 1920s soon after doing is duty on the battle fields of France. Born in 1869, he would have been in his 50s
There is, of course, much more written about this interesting man on wikipedia and elsewhere. Hopefully I've wetted your appetite. I enjoy history and would be pleased if you visited our
April 15th, 1931 Dr Cushing performing his 2000nth brain surgery.
The anatomically correct term for Cushing's disease is now hyperadrenalcorticism. But I thought you might like to know that this disease was originally named to honor a man that spent his life trying to figure out how to help people with severe hormone disorders due to brain tumors.
Prior to the successful techniques of brain surgery developed by surgeons like Dr Cushing, people with growth and hormone disorders had to make a living in "freak" shows.
Dr Harvey Cushing ... a pioneer in brain surgery in the early 1900s dicovered the link between diseases in the brain, ...especially in the pituitary gland located in the brain... and a variety of terrible hormone related diseases affecting humans and animal.
One of those diseases... one involving excess production of cortisol in the body is named in his honor. The diagram below lists the many terrible symptoms of this disease.
The drawing above depicts all the major homrone producing organs (with the exception of adipose tissue which we are just learning produces multiple hormones, most of which seem to cause problems).
On this page we are going to briefly discuss the pituitary gland in the brain in honor of Dr Cushing, as he was the first to figure out it's major role in so many previously mystery diseases.
Introduction ... In addition to everything else that goes on in our brains, there are three specialized glands that detect, monitor, control, and produce bio active chemicals... what we know as hormones.
The 3 specialized areas of the brain are the Pineal Gland, the Hypothalamus, and the Pituitary Gland.
The pineal gland: Not much known about this tiny organ deep in the brain, but we do know it produces the hormone melatonin which helps regulate our daily rhythms and to adapt to seasonal changes.
The hypothalamus: This very specialized part of the brain is like the mother board. It responds to a variety of signals from the internal and external environment including body temperature, hunger, feelings of being full after eating, blood pressure and levels of hormones in the circulation. It also responds to stress and controls our daily bodily rhythms such as the night-time secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland and the changes in cortisol (the stress hormone) and body temperature over a 24-hour period. The hypothalamus collects and combines this information and puts changes in place to correct any imbalances.
One of the major functions of the hypothalamus is to maintain homeostasis, ie, to keep the human body in a stable, constant condition.
The hypothalamus produces:
1. anti-diuretic hormone which controls water reabsorption at the kidneys
2. oxytocin which stimulates contraction of the uterus in childbirth and is important in breastfeeding.
3. corticotrophin-releasing hormone which signals the pituitary gland to make and release ACTH (more about this later)
4. dopamine, associated with pleasure, pain, addiction, Parkinson's disease, depression and roles we don't know much about
5. growth hormone-releasing hormone, which signals the pituitary gland to produce and release growth hormone
6. somatostatin which stops the excess release of growth hormone.
7. gonadotrophin-releasing hormone which signals the pituitary gland to stimulate the testicles and ovaries
8. thyrotrophin-releasing hormone which signals the pituitary gland to release more thyroid stimulating hormone
The pituitary gland: Acts as a storage place for the hormones produced by the hypothalamus and also produces:
1. Growth hormone which stimulates growth, tissue compostion and also plays an important role in milk production
2. ACTH or Adrenocorticotropic hormone which stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete steroid hormones, principally cortisol
3. Lutenising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone which stimulate the testicles and ovaries to make sex hormones
4. Prolactin which stimulates milk production
5. Thyroid stimulating hormone which stimuates the thyroid glands to produce thyroid hormones
As you can see, many of the important hormones that regulate our physical lives are ultimately controlled by the pituitary gland which in turn is regulated by they hypothalamus.
Dr Cushing was the first to figure all this out and also was first to start the process of coming up with effective treatments, much to the relief of millions who suffer from hormone related disorders.
Effects of Cushing Disease
Dr Cushing performed animal experiments on the function of the pituitary gland, located deep in the brain. This experimental data was combined with detailed histories, including photographs, of 48 of his cases. Michael Bliss writes, “His genius was to have grasped the concept of the pituitary as the gland whose secretions control growth.” Tumors could cause under- or over-secretion leading to acromegaly (a form of excessive growth), gigantism, or sexual infantilism. In order to operate on the pituitary, Cushing developed an innovative new route for instruments to reach the pituitary. Shortly before retirement, Cushing delineated the syndrome of pituitary basophilism, which was almost immediately called “Cushing’s disease.”