Charles McBurney

Born 1845
Died 1913

Related eponyms

American surgeon, born February 17, 1845, Roxbury, Massachusetts; died November 7, 1913, Brookline, Massachusetts.

Biography of Charles McBurney

Charles McBurney was one of the surgeons pioneering the diagnostics and operative treatment of appendicitis.

After graduating in arts from Harvard in 1866, McBurney went to New York and obtained his M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1870. He then spent two years in Europe for further study in Berlin, London, Paris, and Vienna. Following his return to the United States in 1873 he commenced practice in New York, gaining appointment as an assistant demonstrator in anatomy at his alma mater, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was elected assistant surgeon to the Bellevue Hospital in 1880, and in 1888 was appointed the surgeon-in-chief at the Roosevelt Hospital, where most of his clinical work, including his famous studies on appendicitis was completed. He rapidly made his hospital one of the centres of surgical excellence in the world of its day.

Progressing through the academic ranks, he served as professor of surgery from 1889 to 1894 and from 1894 1907, as professor of clinical surgery.

McBurney’s classic report on early operative interference in cases of appendicitis was presented before the New York Surgical Society in 1889. In it he described the area of greatest abdominal pain in this disease process, now known as McBurney’s point. Five years later, he set forth in another paper the incision that he used in cases of appendicitis, now called McBurney’s incision.

He published numerous papers and was a keen hunter and fisherman. He died of a coronary thrombosis while on a hunting trip.

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