McDowell, Ephraim

McDowell, Ephraim

▪ American physician and surgical pioneer
born Nov. 11, 1771, Rockbridge County, Va. [U.S.]
died June 25, 1830, Danville, Ky.

      American surgeon who is considered a founder of operative gynecology. He was the first to successfully remove an ovarian tumour (1809), demonstrating the feasibility of elective abdominal surgery.

      McDowell completed his medical studies in Edinburgh, returning to the United States to practice in Danville. He performed his first ovariotomy on Jane Todd Crawford. Without anesthesia or antisepsis, he removed a 20-pound tumour. She lived for more than 30 years afterward. McDowell performed a total of 13 ovariotomies, 8 of them successful, despite prevailing opinion that such an operation would necessarily be fatal.

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