- A dictionary of medical eponyms

George Ryerson Fowler

Born  1848
Died  1906

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American surgeon, born December 25, 1848, New York City; died February 6, 1906, Albany, New York.

Biography of George Ryerson Fowler

George Ryerson Fowler began working as an apprentice in a railway repair shop when he was thirteen years old. He became interested in medicine after having assisted a worker who had had an accident, and eventually he was able to enter the Bellevue Hospital Medical College. After graduating in 1871 he practiced for 15 years in Brooklyn. During these years he became increasingly more interested in surgery and was one of the first to adopt Joseph Lister’s (1827-1912) antiseptic methods.

In 1883 he was appointed surgeon at the newly opened St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn, and from 1887 he was chief of surgery at the newly opened New York Methodist Hospital, also in Brooklyn. His accomplishments thee were so highly regarded that a statute was erected in his honour on Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn. In 1890 he received a chair og surgery at the New York Polyclinic Medical School, a position he retained for the remainder of his life.

Fowler served as a surgeon in the Spanish-American War in 1898. He was a founder and first president of the Brooklyn Red Cross (1884) and introduced first-aid instruction to the New York National Guard.

Fowler was described as an extremely energetic man who appeared to be tireless both day and night. Besides the "Fowler position" and his early operative treatment of appendicitis, Fowler is best remembered for completing the first known thoracoplasty, in 1893.


  • Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on First Aids to the Injured. 1887.
  • A case of thoracoplasty for the removal of a large cicatricial fibrous growth from the interior of the chest, the result of an old empyema.
    The Medical Record, New York, 1893, 44: 838-839.
    First thoracoplasty.
  • A Treatise of Appendicitis. Philadelphia, 1894.
    The first American work to deal exclusively with appendicitis.
  • Diffuse septic peritonitis, with special reference to a new method of treatment, namely, the elevated head and trunk posture, to facilitate drainage into the pelvis, with a report of nine consecutive cases of recovery.
    The Medical Record, New York, 1900, 57: 617-623, 1029-1031.
  • The Operating Room and the Patient. 1906.
  • A treatise on surgery. 2 volumes. Posthumous, Philadelphia, 1906.

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