Cope's Early Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen



I wanted to do an exhibit on the greatest medical text ever written. (well maybe a little hyperbole - there is Hippocrates) So one of the greatest texts ever written.

It is short and it is sweet. It's Cope's Early Diagnosis- the definitive text on examining and diagnosing abdominal pain for the past 100 years. It is rigorously and regularly updated. I have given this book out as a prize for diagnosis contests I have held for residents. This is just a terrific book!

zachary cope

Sir Zachary Cope (1881-1974) (right). Photographed with Sir Henry Hallet Dale (1875-1968) at the reopening of the Wellcome Historical Medical Library, 25 September 1962.


Sir Zachary Cope was born in 1881, and was a fully qualified surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital in London by 1911. His life and career really spanned the "century of surgery" and he was, in addition to being a great abdominal surgeon and diagnostician, he was also a keen observer of the history, nuance and culture of the surgeons around him. His text, "The Early Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen," was and is a masterpiece in the art of diagnosis, and his book "Pioneers of Acute Abdominal Surgery" chronicles the advent of abdominal surgery. (read British Medical Journal obituary of Zachary Cope)