Dr. Joseph F. Artusio Jr., founding chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology of Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital died last Dec. 21 at age 94.
Artusio spent his entire career at the Medical Center and was its highest ranking anesthesiologist for 42 years.
He made major contributions to the field of anesthesia, including the development of anesthetic techniques for early surgery on the heart and research into non-flammable anesthetic agents. He was also greatly admired for his skills as a clinician and educator.
Artusio was the first to define the sequence of amnesia and analgesia with di-ethyl ether in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. This proved to be a forerunner for the light anesthesia produced by narcotics and tranquilizers in modern cardiac surgery. And he was a major player in the development and initial clinical use of edrophonium (Tensilon) in 1950, and of methoxyflurane in 1961.
Born in Jersey City, N.J., in 1917, he graduated from Saint Peter’s College in 1939 and received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1943. After completing his internship at Bellevue Hospital in 1944, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for two years. Dr. Artusio came to The New York Hospital as a resident in anesthesiology in 1946.?
In 1957, he was appointed to anesthesiologist-in-chief. In 1967, he was named to be the first chairman of the newly created Department of Anesthesiology.?
Among Artusio’s numerous publications are two textbooks that he co-authored: “Practical Anesthesiology” (1962) and “Anesthesiology: Problem-Oriented Patient Management” (1984); the latter is widely used by anesthesiology residents and is available in numerous languages. He was editor-in-chief of the journal Clinical Anesthesia from 1963 to 1973, served as president of the Cornell University Medical College Alumni Association from 1963 to 1973, and president of The New York Hospital Medical Board from 1982 to 1984. He was active in numerous professional societies, including as founding member and chairman of the Society of Academic Anesthesia, chairman of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Continuing Education, general chairman of the New York Society of Anesthesiology Post-Graduate Assembly, governor of the American College of Anesthesiologists, and secretary of the Anesthesia Foundation.?
Dr. Artusio was a resident of Pelham, N.Y. for more than 50 years. He was known as a consummate gentleman, and a man of faith and conscience who was devoted to his family. He is survived by three daughters: Marianne, Suzanne and Evelyn; and three sons: Joseph F. III, Mark and Douglas.