Scientific surgery has advanced greatly and the number of operations has increased vastly in the past fifty years. The extent to which this has occurred is perhaps not generally appreciated. Matas has stated that in 1881 there were 172 operations among 5,309 admissions to the Charity Hospital in New Orleans, and two thirds of these were of an emergency character. In the same hospital in 1923 there were 16,405 operations among the 20,565 admissions—a striking illustration of the growth of surgery. Similarly, according to Collins,1 United States Army and Navy records indicate that there are now about twice as many operations per thousand men in those organizations as in 1910. There is no accurate information available on the annual number of surgical operations in the United States.
The frequency of surgery in a given population group may be expressed either as the annual number of surgical operations per thousand