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Sir William Macewen

RCPSG, Illustrations in The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow by Tom Gibson

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Keywords: aseptic surgery, brain surgery, Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Glasgow Western Infirmary, operating theatres, osteotomy, rickets, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, surgeons, surgery, surgical operations, theatre nurses

A photograph taken at the beginning of the 20th century showing an operation conducted by Sir William Macewen (1848-1924). The surgeon on the right, with the moustache, appears to be his former assistant James Hogarth Pringle.

Macewen (standing, left) became a dispensary surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1875, and a lecturer at the Royal's medical school and a visiting surgeon the following year. He became one of the world's most famous surgeons, developing a strict aseptic regime in the operating theatre; pioneering brain surgery after conducting an operation to remove a brain tumour in 1879; advancing methods of conducting surgery of the spine and devising his own instruments and technique known as "Macewen's Osteotomy" to straighten the bones of victims of rickets. In 1892 he became Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow and a surgeon at the Western Infirmary. He was knighted in 1902.

Macewen commanded an international reputation but his blunt manner and impatience in dealing with bureaucracy made unpopular with many members of the medical establishment. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1874 but never held an office in the institution, which was unusual for someone of his standing.

Reference: RCPSG 1/12/7/68

Reproduced with the permission of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow



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