- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Sir Charles Alfred Ballance

Born  1856
Died  1936

Related eponyms

English surgeon, 1856-1936.

Biography of Sir Charles Alfred Ballance

Charles Alfred Ballance was the youngest of four brothers who were all physicians. He received his medical education at University College, London and was a brilliant student who graduated M.B.B.S. in 1886 and interned at St. Thomas' Hospital, later becoming a surgical registrar and demonstrator in anatomy. He studied bacteriology in Leipzig, attending the first course given at the University.

Ballance served with the British Expeditionary Forces during World War I, and returned to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where he was consulting surgeon for many years. A skilled surgeon, he worked with Sir Victor Alexander Haden Horsley (1857-1916) to remove the first spinal tumor successfully, in 1887.

In his book on brain surgery, Some points in the surgery of the brain and its membranes, he sets forth many ideas that were quite modern for their day. The book contains a series of three lectures on cerebral membranes, tumours, and abscesses that he prepared for the Lettsonian Lectures of the Medical Society of London in 1906.

He was the first president of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons and was a friend of Harvey Cushing (1869-1939) with whom he worked in the U.S.A. Although best known for his pioneering work on nerve grafting, he did much work with Samuel Shattuck on the aetiology of cancer. He constantly preached the importance of experimental research in surgery. Following Germany's invasion of Belgium in 1914, he threw a German decoration (bestowed on him years previously) into the Thames.


  • A treatise on the ligation of the great arteries in continuity.
    With Walter Edmunds (1850-1930).
    London, Macmillan & Co., 1891.
    Includes Ballance's scale of measurement of calibre of arteries.
  • Some points in the surgery of the brain and its membranes. London 1907.
  • On splenectomy for rupture without external wound; with remarks on the symptoms produced by the removal of the organ.
    The Practitioner, London, 1908, 60: 347-358.
  • Essays on the surgery of the temporal bone.
    With Charles David Green (1862-1937).
    2 volumes. London, Macmillan, 1919.
    The book is finely illustrated and beautifully produced, with several chapters on the history of the development of temporal bone surgery.
  • A glimpse into the history of the surgery of the brain.
    Thomas Vicary Lecture. London, Macmillan & Co., 1922. First published in Lancet, 1922, 1: 111-116, 165-172.
  • The operative treatment of facial palsy by the introduction of nerve grafts into the Fallopian canal and by other intratemporal methods.
    With Arthur Baldwin Duel (1870-1936).
    Archives of Otolaryngology, Chicago, 1932, 15: 1-70.
    A classic paper which includes some history of the surgical treatment of facial palsy.

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