Matas was born in
Two years later, Matas was chosen to travel with the U.S.
Yellow Fever Commission to
received his degree in medicine from the Medical Department of the University of
Louisiana, now Tulane University, in 1880. Matas' first landmark paper was
published in 1885; in it, he unequivocally defined the cecum and appendix as
intraperitoneal. Subsequent milestones include his use of spinal
anesthesia in 1889, the first in the
most renowned achievement, however, was his development of the intrasaccular
technique for the surgical treatment of aneurysm. Previously, surgical
treatment of aneurysm was limited to proximal and distal vessel ligation.
Matas' technique, initially an improvisation to control bleeding from a brachial
artery aneurysm fed by numerous collaterals, involved opening the sac and
obliterating the ostia of the collaterals from inside; it was later refined to
preserve the patency of the parent artery in favorable cases.
career was one of distinction from the outset: at 23 he was appointed director
of the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal.
In 1895 he was elected Professor of Surgery at Tulane University, a post
he held until he became Emeritus Professor in 1927. He was also active as
surgeon and consultant at Charity Hospital, Touro Infirmary, and the Ear, Eye,
Nose and Throat Hospital - all in New Orleans - throughout a long career. At
48, gonococcal keratoconjunctivitis, acquired in the operating room,
necessitated enucleation; Matas subsequently became fond of remarking on what a
great deal "we Cyclopeans can accomplish in a binocular world."
Matas continued his surgical practice and civic and academic pursuits
until the age of 92, five years before his death.