He made historical contributions to otology, vascular surgery, the anatomy and pathology of the mammary glands and testicles, and the pathology and surgery of hernia.
Astley Cooper was born in Brooke, Norfolk and was sent to London and placed under Henry Cline, surgeon to St Thomas’ Hospital. At first, Cooper devoted most of his studies to anatomy and also attended the lectures of the famous surgeon John Hunter. Cooper was appointed demonstrator of anatomy at St Thomas’ Hospital, where he later became lecturer. At Guy’s Hospital, Cooper was appointed surgeon in 1800.
At this time, Astley Cooper’s reputation as surgeon was good and two years at Guy’s Hospital, he was awarded the Copley Medal for two papers he read at the Royal Society of London about the destruction of the tympanic membrane. Cooper significantly participated in the formation of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London. He published important papers on hernia which increased his fame. In 1813, Cooper was appointed professor of comparative anatomy to the Royal College of Surgeons and was very popular as a lecturer.
In this period, Cooper performed some of his famous experimental surgeries. For instance, in 1817, the surgeon performed his famous operation of tying the abdominal aorta for aneurism and in 1820, after removing an infected sebaceous cyst from the head of George IV, he was appointed sergeant surgeon to George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria. To Astley Cooper’s most important contributions to medical science belongs his work in vascular surgery, especially cerebral circulation. Through his experimental techniques, Cooper managed to demonstrate the the effects of bilateral ligation of the carotid arteries and to propose treatment of aneurysms by ligation of the vessel. In the first volume of ‘Medico-Chirurgical Transactions‘, Cooper published his attempt to tie the common carotid artery for treating an aneurysm in a patient, which was followed by an attempt to try the same with the external iliac artery for a femoral aneurysm and he ligated the aorta for an iliac aneurysm.
At yovisto, you can learn more about the current state of surgery and its future in the TED talk of Dr. Catherine Mohr entitled “Surgery`s Past, Present, and Robotic Future“.
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