McDowell, Ephraim

McDowell, Ephraim

(məkdoul`, –dou`əl), 1771–1830, American pioneer surgeon, b. Virginia. He studied with the Scottish surgeon John Bell in Edinburgh and practiced in Danville, Ky. He was noted especially for his success in lithotomy, and in 1809 he made surgical history by performing the first ovariotomy.
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McDowell, Ephraim

(1771–1830) surgeon; born in Rockbridge County, Va. He attended medical lectures at the University of Edinburgh (1793–94) before returning to Danville, Ky., (1795) where he became known as the best surgeon west of Philadelphia. Often regarded as the "father of abdominal surgery," he never got a medical degree. At his office in 1809, he successfully removed a twenty-pound tumorous ovary without incurring peritoneal infection. His most famous patient was James K. Polk, in whose pre-presidential abdomen he removed bladder stones and stitched up a hernia. He gave the ground for the Danville Episcopal Church, gave free medical service to those who could not pay, and was a founder and trustee of Centre College (in Danville, Ky.).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.