Auguste Nélaton

Auguste Nélaton (1807-1873) was a French physician and surgeon.

Nélaton was a great teacher and operator at the Hôpital St. Louis in Paris. Widely respected by his contemporaries such as Malgaigne and Desault, he was known for his surgical dexterity, and served as personal surgeon to Napoléon III.

Along with Wilhelm Roser eponymously affiliated with the Roser-Nélaton line

  • Born June 17, 1807, Paris
  • Raised by his mother from a young age, as his father was lost at war during the french army’s campaign in Russia (circa 1813)
  • 1828 Attended the Faculté de Paris as a medical student
  • 1831 Appointed as intern at the Hôtel-Dieu in Paris
  • 1835 Appointed as intern under Guillaume Dupuytren, who died suddenly in February of the same year
  • 1839 Professorship at the hôpital Saint-Louis
  • 1851 – MD, Thèse: De l’influence de la position dans les maladies chirurgicales
  • 1863 Member of the Academy of Medicine (France)
  • 1868 Received the title of Grand Officer in the Légion d’Honneur
  • Died September 21, 1873

l’entrée d’Auguste faisait sensation. A première vue, on se sentait attiré par je ne sais quel charme, mélangé d’une sorte de respect, vers ce jeune homme au doux et ferme maintien, au regard à la fois si modeste et si assuré

Guyon F. 1876

Auguste’s entrance made sensation. At first glance, one felt attracted by a certain charm, mixed with a sort of respect for this young man, with his gentle yet firm affect, with a look at once so modest, yet so assured

Guyon F. 1876

Medical Eponyms
Nélaton’s line (Roser-Nélaton line)

“Si l’on examine à l’état normal les rapports exacts du grand trochanter avec les diverses saillies osseuses que l’on trouve sur le bassin, on reconnaît que , si le fémur est fléchi à angle droit avec une légère adduction, le sommet du grand trochanter répond à une ligne qui partirait de l’épine  iliaque antéro-supérieure pour se rendre à la partie la plus saillante de la tubérosité sciatique, et que cette ligne divise en même temps la cavité cotyloïde en deux parties égales.”

Nélaton A. Luxations de l’articulation coxo-femorale. In: Elémens de pathologie chirurgicale, 1844; 2(XXXIII): 441-442

If one examines, in its normal state, the exact relations of the greater trochanter to the different bony prominences which are found on the pelvis, one recognizes that, if the femur is flexed at a right angle with a light adduction, the summit of the greater trochanter corresponds to a line traced from the anterior superior iliac spine to the ischial tuberosity, and that this line also divides the acetabulum into two equal parts.

Nélaton A. Luxations de l’articulation coxo-femorale. In: Elémens de pathologie chirurgicale, 1844; 2(XXXIII): 441-442

“Die diagnose der Luxation erschien uns inden meisten Fällen dieser Art sehr leicht: bei normaler Lage befinden sich die Spina ilii, der Trochanter und der Tuber ischii nahezu in Einer Linie, ist Luxation da, so steht der Trochanter auffallend höher und weiter nach hinten als die Linie, welche man sich von der Spina zum Tuber gezogen denkt.”

Roser W. Hacker, Erfahrungen und Abhandlungen im Gebiete der Chirurgie. Archiv für physiologische Heilkunde, 1846; 5: 142

The diagnosis of luxation presented itself in most cases quite clearly: in a normal situation, the iliac spine, the trochanter and the ischial tuberosity lie nearly on the same line; if there is a luxation, the trochanter lies noticeably higher and more posterior to the line, which one may imagine traced from the spine to the tuberosity”

Roser W. Hacker, Erfahrungen und Abhandlungen im Gebiete der Chirurgie. Archiv für physiologische Heilkunde, 1846; 5: 142

Nélaton tumor (Dupuytren-Nélaton disease)

First published a detailed manuscript on bony cysts, a phenomenon first described by his senior physician, Guillaume Dupuytren

“J’ai présenté à la societé de chirurgie, dans l’année 1844, un fort bel exemple de ces kystes multiloculaires contenant de la sérosité sanuinolente. La tumeur, qui occupait le fémur gauche, était étendue depuis la base du grand trochanter jusqu’à deux centimètres des condyles fémoraux, et elle résultait de l’agglomération d’une multitude de kystes dont la plupart auraient pu contenir une noix.”

Nélaton A. 1844

“I presented, at the surgical society in the year 1844, a very nice example of these multilocular cysts containing serosanguinous fluid. The tumor, which occupied the left femur, extended from the base of the greater trochanter to two centimeters from the femoral condyles, and it was a result of the agglomeration of a multitude of cysts, most of which were large enough to hold a nut.”

Nélaton A. 1844

Dupuytren-Nélaton disease 1844 3
Nélaton A. Des kystes des os 1844

Other eponyms
  • Nélaton ulcer – trophic plantar ulcer (1852)
  • Nélaton catheter – tubular rubber bladder catheter
  • Nélaton probe – porcelain-tipped probe for locating bullets (used to probe Abraham Lincoln’s head after he was shot)

Major Publications



Eponymous terms

Cite this article as: Aparicio Gomez and Mike Cadogan, "Auguste Nélaton," In: LITFL - Life in the FastLane, Accessed on June 26, 2022,


the person behind the name

Resident medical officer in emergency medicine MB ChB (Uni. Dundee)  MRCS Ed. Avid traveller, yoga teacher, polylinguist with a passion for discovering cultures.

Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM with a passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.