Surgeon's Special Scissors

Posted on Jul 06, 2018

Paul Danielson, M.D., makes surgical bandages fun.

A pediatric surgeon makes an extraordinary number of precision cuts over the course of his career. Each and every cut intentional–chosen to minimize healing time and maximize success.

But some cuts are just made to bring smiles.

At the end of each procedure, Paul Danielson, M.D., chief of the division of pediatric surgery at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, finds an extra moment to put a sharp pair of scissors to a plain bandage—and carve out a little cheer. It could be a rabbit, a duck, a dinosaur—or maybe a soccer ball or a ballerina.

The young patient awakes to find an octopus or a turtle—something not so intimidating covering his or her incision. Families get a charge out of the extra touch.

“Some parents tell me their child liked the cut-out so much they didn’t want to take the bandage off. Some wind up in baby books,” says Danielson, with a twinkle in his eye.

But it’s actually more than that. It’s also a way of simplifying instructions after surgery.

Danielson says before he began doing the cut-outs, patient families had trouble distinguishing which part of the bandage to remove at the appropriate time. They’d sometimes take the entire dressing off too soon.

“What I learned is that if I told them to ‘take off the duck, but leave the bandage on,’ or ‘take off the dinosaur but leave the bandage on,’ then they’d actually know to leave the butterfly strips on … which is exactly what I wanted them to do for another two weeks,” Danielson explains.

Silhouette art enforcing post-operative order.

Who would have guessed?


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