William Edwards Ladd

William Edwards Ladd (1880 – 1967)

William Edwards Ladd (1880 – 1967) was an American paediatric surgeon.

Known as the father of paediatric surgery.

Pioneering work included the surgical management of intussusception, malrotation and volvulus, pyloric stenosis, biliary atresia and Wilm’s tumour.

Biography

  • Born 8 September 1880 in Massachusetts as the sixth of seven children
  • Graduated with an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1906
  • 1910-1913 Assistant Visiting Surgeon to the Boston City Hospital, Infant’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Milton Hospital
  • 1912 – Assistant in Surgery at Harvard Medical School
  • 1927 – Surgeon-in-Chief at Boston Children’s Hospital
  • 1941 – co-authored the first modern American paediatric surgical textbook (Abdominal Surgery of Infancy and Childhood) with Robert E. Gross (1905-1988)
  • Died 15 April 1967

Medical Eponyms

  • Ladd’s bands – anomalous congenital peritoneal bands attaching the caecum to the posterior abdominal wall in cases of intestinal malrotation
  • Ladd’s operation (1932) – Incision of Ladd’s bands to relieve duodenal obstruction in malrotation of the intestine
  • Ladd-Gross syndrome – Icterus neonatorum associated with atresia of the bile ducts. 
  • Ladd’s syndrome (1932) – Congenital obstruction of the duodenum secondary to peritoneal bands (Ladd’s bands) resulting from a malrotated caecum.

Key Medical Attributions:

  • December 6, 1917, in Halifax harbour, Canada, the French cargo ship the S.S. Mont-Blanc, filled with wartime explosives, collided with the S.S. Nimo, a Norwegian ship. The detonation resulted in 2,000 deaths and 9,000 injured. Ladd arrived on scene within 24-hours in charge of a Red Cross Unit with enough equipment for a 500-bed hospital. He treated thousands of the injured, including hundreds of children with burns and lacerations.
  • On returning to Boston, Ladd devoted himself entirely to the surgical care of infants and children
  • From 1911, published multiple papers regarding his experience of intussusception and its management [Boston Med Surg J 1911, Boston Med Surg J 1913, Arch. Surg 1934]
  • Ladd pioneered the surgical management of Wilm’s tumour, including promoting the abdominal surgical approach over the posterior approach.  ‘Embryoma of the kidney (Wilm’s tumour)
  • Made key contributions in the surgical management of cleft palate and bladder exstrophy [N Eng J Med 1940]
  • Also contributed to the surgical management of biliary atresia, tracheoesophageal fistulas/atresias, and anorectal malformations [American Journal of Surgery 1934]
  • A number of Ladd’s trainees went on to achieve notable milestones in paediatric surgery including;
    • Orvar Swenson – best known for his work with Hirschsprung disease
    • Robert E. Gross – credited for being one of the first to report successful closure of a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (1939) and pioneering treatment of aortic coarctation, co-author of Ladd’s Paediatric Surgery textbook mentioned above, and Ladd’s successor as Chair of Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital (1945)

Major Publications

References


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Dr Chloe Roy MBChB, BMed Sci (hons). Surgeon in the making | LinkedIn |

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