Dr. John B. Murphy - Surgical Hero

john b murphy

John Benjamin Murphy, M.D. (1857-1916)

What an incredibly cool man! William Mayo, one of the Mayo Brothers called him "the surgical genius of our generation." John Murphy nearly single-handedly lead American surgery out of the fronteir and into the twentieth century. He was a "skin and its contents" specialist, causing innovations not only in abdoinal surgery, but also in neurosurgery and orthopedics as well. He performed nerve grays, gode grays, tendon transfers, all while inventing a suture less way of reconnecting bowels called "the Murphy button" which never really worked very well, but is such an enchanting, beguiling idea that surgeons have spent over a hundred years trying to get it to work rather than discard a really cool idea.

Dr. Murphy's specialty was really diagnosis. He is still remembered for "Murphy's sign" for inflammation of the gallbladder. He was an early and forceful advocate for the early diagnosis and treatment of appendicitis. He was such an astute clinician that his last words as he died were the accurate prediction of the findings at his own autopsy. For more on this great man I have linked to Dr. Murphy's obituary in the New York Times.