Leonid Ivanovich Rogozov (Russian: Леони́д Ива́нович Ро́гозов; 14 March 1934 – 21 September 2000) was a Soviet general practitioner who took part in the sixth Soviet Antarctic Expedition, 1960–1961. He was the only medical staffer stationed at the Novolazarevskaya Station. While there, he developed appendicitis, which meant he had to perform an appendectomy on himself in a prototypical case of self-surgery.
Леонид Иванович Рогозов
|Died||September 21, 2000 (aged 66)|
|Nationality||Soviet Union, Russia|
|Occupation||General practitioner, Surgeon|
|Known for||Self-appendectomy while stationed at a remote research station in Antarctica|
Leonid Rogozov was born in Dauriya Station, Chita Oblast, a remote village in eastern Siberia, just 17 km (11 mi) from the Soviet border with Mongolia and China, near Manzhouli. His father was killed in World War II in 1943. In 1953, Rogozov completed his studies at a secondary school in Minusinsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai and was admitted to the Leningrad Pediatric Medical Institute (now Saint Petersburg). After graduating in 1959 as a general practitioner, he started clinical training to specialise in surgery. In September 1960, at the age of 26, he interrupted his training and joined the sixth Soviet Antarctic Expedition as a medical doctor.
From September 1960 until October 1962, Rogozov worked in Antarctica, in his role as the sole doctor for a team of thirteen researchers at the Novolazarevskaya Station, established in January 1961.
On the morning of 29 April 1961, Rogozov experienced general weakness, nausea, and moderate fever, and later pain in the lower right portion of his abdomen. None of the possible conservative treatments helped. By 30 April signs of localised peritonitis became apparent, and his condition worsened considerably by the evening. Mirny, the nearest Soviet research station, was more than 1,600 km (1,000 mi) from Novolazarevskaya. Antarctic research stations of other countries did not have an aircraft available. Severe blizzard conditions prevented aircraft landing in any case. Rogozov had no option but to perform an operation on himself.
The operation started at 02:00 local time on 1 May with the help of a driver and meteorologist, who provided instruments and held a mirror so Rogozov could observe areas not directly visible. Rogozov lay in a semi-reclining position, half-turned to his left side. A solution of 0.5% novocaine was used for local anesthesia of the abdominal wall. Rogozov made a 10–12 cm incision of the abdominal wall, but while opening the peritoneum he accidentally cut the cecum and had to suture it. Then he exposed the appendix. According to his report, the appendix was found to have a dark stain at its base, and Rogozov estimated it would have burst within a day. The appendix was resected and antibiotics were applied directly into the peritoneal cavity. General weakness and nausea developed about 30–40 minutes after the start of the operation so that short pauses for rest were repeatedly needed after that. By about 04:00 the operation was complete.
After the operation gradual improvement occurred in the signs of peritonitis and in the general condition of Rogozov. Body temperature returned to normal after five days, and the stitches were removed seven days after the operation. He resumed his regular duties in about two weeks. The self-surgery captured the imagination of the Soviet public at the time. In 1961 he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour. The incident resulted in a change of policy, and thereafter, extensive health checks were mandatory for personnel to be deployed on such expeditions.
In October 1962 Rogozov returned to Leningrad and started working on an MD at his alma mater. In September 1966 he published an MD thesis entitled Resection of the esophagus for treating esophageal cancer. He later worked as a doctor in various hospitals in Leningrad. From 1986 to 2000 he served as the head of the surgery department of Saint Petersburg Research Institute for Tubercular Pulmonology.
Rogozov died in 2000, aged 66, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, from lung cancer.
- L.I. Rogozov (1964). "Self-operation" (PDF). Soviet Antarctic Expedition Information Bulletin: 223–224.
- Rogozov, V.; Bermel, N.; Rogozov, LI. (2009). "Auto-appendectomy in the Antarctic: case report". BMJ. 339: b4965. doi:10.1136/bmj.b4965. PMID 20008968.
- Lentati, Sara (5 May 2015). "The man who cut out his own appendix". BBC News.
- Self-operation. Tracking down a good story at the Wayback Machine (archived November 7, 2012), with photos from the operation
- https://www.thisamericanlife.org/613/ok-ill-do-it This American Life podcast episode