World War I: The genesis of craniomaxillofacial surgery?

Donald A. Simpson*, David J. David

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Herbert Moran enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps early in World War I. His autobiography captures the impact of contemporary experience of wartime gunshot wounds, seen in vast numbers and with little understanding of the requirements of wartime surgery. Wounds of the face and brain were numerous, especially in trench fighting. In France, Germany, Britain and elsewhere, surgeons and dentists collaborated to repair mutilated faces and special centres were set up to facilitate this. The innovative New Zealand surgeon Harold Gillies developed his famous reconstructive techniques in the Queen's Hospital at Sidcup, with the help of dental surgeons, anaesthetists and medical artists. The treatment of brain wounds was controversial. Many surgeons, especially on the German side, advocated minimal primary operative surgery and delayed closure. Others advocated early exploration and immediate closure; among the first to do so was the Austro-Hungarian otologist Robert Bárány. In 1918, the pioneer American neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing published well-documented proof of the desirability of definitive operative management done as soon as possible. Few World War I surgeons developed their knowledge of plastic surgery, neurosurgery and oral surgery in post-war practice. An exception was Henry Newland, who went on to pioneer the development of these specialties in Australasia. After World War II, the French plastic surgeon Paul Tessier created the multidisciplinary subspecialty of craniomaxillofacial surgery, with the help of his neurosurgical colleague Gérard Guiot, and applied this approach to the correction of facial deformities. It has become evident that the new subspecialty requires appropriate training programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-77
Number of pages7
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain injury
  • Craniomaxillofacial surgery
  • Facial injury
  • Missile injury
  • World War I


Dive into the research topics of 'World War I: The genesis of craniomaxillofacial surgery?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this