Bloodless Surgery: The Bovie
Peter Bent Brigham Hospital 1926



Throughout history people have used heat to cauterize wounds. By the late 19th century, heat could be produced by electric current. In 1926, Harvard physicist William T. Bovie's research into the effects of heat and radiation led him to invent an electrosurgical knife, or Bovie. The device delivers high-frequency alternating current into the body and can cut tissue or coagulate blood. First used for breast cancer where it also helped to stop the spread of malignant cells, it was quickly adopted by neurosurgeons for previously inoperable brain tumors. Though his innovative tool is still used today, Bovie sold his patent for $1 and was not granted tenure at Harvard.


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