Dr. William S. Maxfield was born in Waco, Texas, and grew up in Dallas, Texas. During is school-age years, he attended summer school every year earning enough credits to allow him to graduate from Highland Park High School two years early.
He came from a pioneering medical family. His father, James R. Maxfield, began his medical career as the plant physician for Morton Salt Company mines, as the surgeon for Texas and Pacific Railroad, and at the same time cared for his patients from the agricultural community of Grand Saline, Texas. His father went on to attend the Emil Grubbe, MD School of Electrotherapeutics in Chicago in 1903, and thereafter, introduced a Betz x-ray unit (see picture) to their rural community in Grand Saline. This was the beginning of radiology being a part of the Maxfield practice and was about seven years after Roentgen discovered x-rays.
Established in 1947, the Maxfield Clinic-Hospital at 2711 Oak Lawn, Dallas, Texas, was one of the first hospitals the Atomic Energy Commission licensed for use of radioisotopes in clinical medicine and research, and 1955, the third cobalt treatment center in the USA. William and the remaining Maxfield brothers developed the technique for treating bone metastasis with radioactive phosphorus (P32) plus testosterone and for treating other cancers such as brain metastases. They had excellent success with this technique. One patient that developed bone metastasis from lung cancer was treated with this way. When she expired a few years later from soft tissue progression, there was no evidence of bone mets. The longest survivor from their treatment program at the Maxfield Clinic in Dallas, Texas, was 25 years for a prostate cancer with extensive bone mets, who died of cardiac problems and not his cancer. The urologist had given him less than six months to live. They were also co-inventors for development of implantation of radioactive seeds encased in nylon tubes for various cancers treatment. They also developed the technique of using P32 as a diagnostic procedure similar to the sentinel node biopsies of today. This was an autoradiograph P32 technique that showed that in about 30% of the cases, they could demonstrate metastatic nodes in patients who had been given a clean bill of health for metastasis on an original pathology report. In addition, a clinical hyperbaric oxygen therapy program was started at their hospital in 1978.
Following in his father’s and three other family members’ medical path,, William began working alongside side his brothers at the Maxfield Clinic Hospital the summer before he was to start college at SMU. In the fall of 1948, he was given the opportunity to attend a one-month course at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (ORINS), and this began his interest in nuclear medicine. Thereafter on weekends and on holidays, he worked as a nuclear medicine technician for his brothers and was the photographer for the autopsies of their patients.
After graduating from SMU with a BA in psychology in 1950, William became the fourth member of his family to receive an MD degree from Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. During his last two years of clinical rotations which were at the VA hospital in Houston, William had the opportunity to meet and observe Dr. Herb Allen’s work on developing a rectilinear scanner.
During the next summer after graduating from Baylor, he continued to work with his brothers at the Maxfield Clinic Hospital. At this time, they were working on the development of interstitial implantation of radioactive materials using Cobalt 60 seeds in nylon tubing for bladder tumors in conjunction with Vincent Vermooten MD, a Dallas urologist and one of the founders of the Southwest Chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine in 1955. For his internship year after medical school, William then completed a one-year (1940-41) program in general clinical medicine and surgery at Southern Pacific General Hospital (SPGH) in San Francisco, CA.
He then went on to the US Navy Hospital in Chelsea, MA, (while he was active duty) in 1956 where he established that hospital’s nuclear medicine laboratory. He was thereafter transferred to the US Navy Hospital in Bethesda, MD, which was a real boost to his career where he became chief of the nuclear medicine section and part of the USA delegation to the Second International Atoms for Peace Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. He was also a member of the Plutonium Decontamination Team during these year at which time he was introduced to hyperbaric chambers and medicine. Dr. Maxfield gave lectures while at Bethesda on acute radiation syndrome which were the basis for two chapters that he published on the topic. Also while at Bethesda, they did a large number of thyroid patients, and William found it frustrating not to be able to determine where the rectilinear scanner detector or uptake probe was relative to the patient’s neck anatomy (see picture). He came up with the idea of putting a small light bulb from an ophthalmoscope into the central hole of the focusing collimator of the scanner and center up the uptake collimator and attaching it to batteries on the side of the collimator. This was the first light localizer for showing location of the scan detector on a scanner or uptake collimator to delineate the patient’s anatomy. After he had been using his light localizer for several months, Don Lee Taburn PhD, from Abbott Laboratories came by and saw what he was doing. Shortly thereafter, light localizers for focusing collimators were standard equipment in the field of nuclear medicine. Also while in the Navy, William Maxfield developed other numerous nuclear medicine protocols that are considered routine today.
After leaving the Navy in 1959, his next endeavor was completing a radiology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, where he eventually became an Instructor and then Chief in Radiation Therapy in the Department of Radiology.
In 1964, he took a position at Ochsner Clinic and Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans, LA, as Chief of Radiation Therapy and Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Medicine Laboratory. While at Ochsner, Dr. Maxfield had a close working relationship with Albert Segaloff MD who ran the research laboratory and was also active in chemotherapy. His cooperation with Al was the basis of their paper on the synergism between radiation and estrogen in production of breast cancer, documenting for the first time synergism between carcinogens. The protocol they designed used a strain of rats that would develop breast cancer late in their life after exposure of the mammary chain to estrogen or radiation. In reviewing the data on radiation, he noted that all the previous reports on production of mammary cancer used ortho voltage therapy at 250 kv which, to him, did not make sense because of the marked penetration of that radiation energy into the body of the experimental animal. The protocol they developed, therefore, used superficial radiation therapy, energy not dissimilar to mammography, which essentially treated only the mammary chain and did not give significant additional radiation to the animal. Their protocol showed that they produced development of breast cancer in half of the expected time. When they examined the first animals developing the breast cancer, they thought that they would have a few breast cancers. But at autopsy of the animals, there was essentially total carcinogenesis in the mammary chain that received exposure to both estrogen and radiation. There were so many individual cancers that they could not count them.
While at Oschner, he was also Clinical Professor in Radiology at Tulane University School of Medicine and eventually Professor and Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Louisiana State School of Medicine during his time in New Orleans. While at LSU Medical School, Dr. Maxfield was appointed as consultant in Radiation Safety for Ingles Nuclear Ship in Pascagoula, MS, where they were refueling nuclear subs. With his experience in the Navy, having been a member of the plutonium decontamination team, and his work as liaison officer for Louisiana with the AEC program, this was an area of great interest for him.
After New Orleans, he practiced radiation oncology, radiology, nuclear medicine, preventative medicine, and hyperbaric medicine in Tampa Bay, FL, beginning in 1972. In 1973, he opened up a nuclear medicine office in Bradenton, FL, where he had a nuclear medicine screening program that evaluated aorta and kidney perfusion with then scans of the kidney, brain, and synovial membrane of the joints of the extremities.
He was introduced to hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) when he took his father-in-law to Dr. Richard Neubauer for treatment. Dr. Maxfield thereafter became a member of a task force that established an international protocol for utilizing HBOT in acute stroke and is also a member of an ethics task force for HBOT medicine. In the end, William Maxfield has gained extensive knowledge and experience utilizing HBOT for stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain trauma, cerebral palsy, and congenital problems to name a few.
His brothers, JR and Jack, were founders and charter members of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (now called SNMMI) in 1954. Dr. William Maxfield, along with his brothers were the key to the establishment of the Southwestern Chapter of the current SNMMI in 1955. He, along with his brothers, JR and Jack, and Dr. Vermooten, a urologist, were the founders and charter members of this chapter. All three of these Maxfield brothers have been former presidents of the SNMMI and the Southwestern Chapter. William was SNM President in 1968-69. While President at the 1969 SNM meeting in New Orleans, William and his wife held a reception in their home with jazz music bands for entertainment which everyone enjoyed. He was also President of the Southwestern Chapter in 1972-73. The brothers also incorporated the American College of Nuclear Medicine (ACNM) in 1971 which has a sound basis of clinically-oriented scientific programs for practitioners of the field of nuclear medicine through the years.
Dr. William Maxfield became board-certified by the ABNM in 1973. He is the author of 38 scientific publications, 2 short publications, 12 abstracts, 9 scientific exhibits, and a video tape. He has a total of 45 years clinical practice and research which includes 19 years of clinical hyperbaric medicine.
As the sole survivor of the Maxfields, he continues to be active as a locum in radiology and consultant in radiology. He states that he was pleased to be able to establish the Maxfield Memorial Lecture for SWCSNM in 2005 presenting the first lecture at the 50th SWCSNM meeting. We are pleased that this is an ongoing program.