Two years after he had cut off his own finger, Dr. Evan O'Neill Kane, chief surgeon at the Kane Summit Hospital in Kane, Pa., climbed back on the operating table to do a little more self-surgery.

On Feb. 15, 1921, the 60-year-old surgeon removed his own chronically inflamed appendix. "Sitting on the operating table propped up by pillows and with a nurse holding his head forward that he might see, he calmly cut into his abdomen, carefully dissecting the tissues and closing the blood vessels as he worked his way in. Locating the appendix, he pulled it up, cut off and bent the stump under . . . ," The New York Times reported at the time.

After he was done, he allowed his assistants, including his brother Dr. Tom L. Kane, to close the wound. He left the hospital the next day.

Evan Kane turned up in the news again on Jan. 8, 1932. This time, he was operating on himself to repair an inguinal hernia, which apparently was caused by falling off a horse.

The original caption for the photo above read: "Dr. Kane, 70, joked with the nurses as he plied the knife. In 1921, he removed his own appendix. Wotta man!" Twelve weeks later, Kane died of pneumonia.

Dr. Drummond Rennie, an editor with the Journal of the American Medical Association, where Kane's surgery was recently discussed, went on to search the medical literature for cases of physicians, and others, who have operated on themselves.

Rennie quoted one report in the scientific literature about about "an unsuccessful British Parliamentary candidate {who} showed a movie of herself expanding her consciousness by trepanning herself with an electric drill . . ."

Trepanation is an operation to literally cut circles in the skull. Rennie recounted that "a film critic described the audience as 'droping off their seats one by one like ripe plums.' "

A search of the medical literature also turned up 16 cases -- since 1846 -- of people gouging out their own eye because they interpreted Matthew 5:29 literally -- "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee."

Rennie also turned up 14 cases of self-surgery by medical men, including one by Clever de Maldigny in 1824. "He lived up to his name by performing it with mirrors," Rennie wrote. "His choice of himself as surgeon seems reasonable considering that the stone {that de Maldigny removed from his body} originated in a sponge left after a former operation done by someone else."

And the tradition hasn't disappeared. Rennie, quoting a Nov. 18, 1986, issue of Weekly World News, reported that "Dr. Ira Kahn removed his own acutely inflamed appendix, and did so when sitting at the wheel of his car, stuck in a Beirut traffic jam. When the road cleared and he had packed the wound and put the car into gear, he drove himself to a hospital to complete his convalescence."

Rennie added a postscript about Pennsylvania's good Dr. Kane. Besides his penchant for operating on himself, he introduced another novel surgical technique in 1925: he was "signing his operations by putting India ink on the skin of the patient and, while the ink was fresh, making two slight scratches and a dot forming the letter 'K' in the radio code alphabet.

"Imagine," wrote Rennie, "what this splendid technician would have achieved for himself had he lived today, in an era when surgeons put in zippers to facilitate daily exploration of the abdomen!"