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DR. PHILLIP SYNG PHYSICK

"Father of American Surgery"
(1768 - 1837)

Known as the "Father of American Surgery," Dr. Phillip Syng Physick was on the medical staff of Pennsylvania Hospital from 1794 until 1816. After studying medicine in England with Dr. John Hunter, he received his medical degree in Edinburgh and returned to Philadelphia in 1792. Upon his return, he participated in the treatments given during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, was appointed Surgeon Extraordinary to Philadelphia's Almshouse Infirmary and went on to become a professor of both surgery and anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania.

While on staff at the Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Physick accumulated many noteworthy medical accomplishments, including: innovatively treating dislocations and fractures; being the first to practice capillary puncture of the head for hydrocephalus; inventing the tonsil guillotine and needle forceps; and being the first to use animal ligatures in surgery. Two of his more famous operations occurred on James Hayes in 1805 and 1806, during which he removed two large parotid gland tumors from Hayes' cheek (the larger, seven-pound tumor was preserved, and is still part of the Historic Collections). Physick also operated on Chief Justice John Marshall in 1831, successfully treating the famous jurist for a kidney stone.

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