Neil, David A., 2006, The emperor's new scar: the ethics of placebo surgery, In D. Benatar (ed.), Cutting to the Core: Exploring the Ethics of Contested Surgeries, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 197-210.
Surgical innovation is something of a grey area in medical research. Relative to other doctors, surgeons exercise a high degree of discretion in the trialing of new techniques with their patients. The first patients to undergo a new procedure are, in a real sense, subjects in an experiment. It is always hoped that a new procedure will deliver a clinical benefit but, as often as not, trial means error. The front-line patients bear a higher burden of risk, with lower expectation of success than subsequent patients, who benefit from the experience gained in the early attempts.