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In 1904, Penn Delta was founded with the encouragement of medical students from Jefferson Medical. Our first undergraduate president, Otto G. Wiedman 1905, became a distinguished obstetrician in Connecticut (and, in the late '40s, delivered Dane Kostin '69).

Brothers like Adam Brubaker 1912 and the father and son team of George 1909 and George Lawrence, Jr., '34, to Cud LeClair '29, Pete Yurchak '53, Eric Gall '62, Tony Mishik '79 and Rick Thompson '95, just to name a few Penn Delta medicine men, have brought reflective glory to our chapter.

 

So too Sal Brau '67, who adds lustre to the respected Penn Delta medical tradition. Sal is the developer
of a breakthrough approach to back surgery that makes for a swifter and less complex recovery for selected patients by going in from the front via the abdomen.

After graduating from the chapter in 1967, Sal studied medicine at the University of Puerto Rico, graduating with honors in 1971. He spent six years at Mt. Sinai in New York, training in general and vascular surgery before moving to Los Angeles with his wife Noreen in 1977. In L.A., Sal eventually became associated with a spine surgeon in a well-known sports medicine clinic who asked him to
perform these "anterior" approaches for him.

Sal then began concentrating in anterior spinal access, meaning how to mechanically reach a particular
place on the spine so that surgery could be performed from the front rather than through the back.

What especially concerned Sal about spinal surgery was the tearing and cutting of muscles and the possible injury to the great blood vessels, which could happen in allowing the surgeon to access the
spine itself.

"What if," Sal mused, "a surgeon could enter from the patient's belly area without actually 'cutting' any
muscles or injuring these blood vessels?"

He wondered if it could be done without entering the abdominal cavity itself to avoid injury to the
bowel and other organs? Sal's intellectual/medical curiosity and speculation led him to develop
and perfect a new surgical technique— entering from the front and carefully "pushing and holding" the
intestinal sac and musculature aside and mobilizing the major blood vessels so that a surgeon could have a clear field to operate on the spine.

Thus was born what I call "the Brau technique," further refined in 1996 (published in 2000) by Sal's
having invented a reverse lip "Brau blade," which is a (patented) lever he created to pull back and hold the innards while a spinal operation takes place.

In 2000, Sal stopped doing general vascular surgery and further specialized in becoming the surgeon
who would "expose" the spine so that the primary surgeon could perform his art. Sal has done as many
as six exposures in a day and over 4,000 in his career. Sal has performed these "get the patient ready"
surgeries all over the world, including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France, Australia, and Canada.

Congratulations to Sal for his major contributions in the advancement of surgical techniques and for strengthening the spirit of contribution to the greater good, which is the hallmark of Benjamin Franklin's University and of Penn Delta.

- By Conrad Eberstein '65