Austin Flint

Austin Flint (1812 - 1886)

Austin Flint (1812-1886) was an American Physician.

Flint had a specialist interest in diseases of the heart and lungs and was a firm believer in the importance of clinical examination. Flint was a gifted teacher, founder of two medical schools and professor in six medical schools. Flint co-founded the medical schools of Buffalo Medical College (now the State University of New York at Buffalo) and Bellevue Medical College (later amalgamated with the New York University College of Medicine)

In 1859 he wrote the first American textbook on heart disease, placing great detail on auscultation and description of murmurs. Among the first to recognise the importance of normal cardiac and respiratory sounds and encouraged routine auscultation on all patients.

Flint coined the term ‘broncho-vesicular breathing‘ and the importance of the pitch of percussion notes in clinical diagnosis, providing great detail in his ‘Manual of Percussion and Auscultation‘ (1876). Perhaps most notably, his name is attributed to the mid-diastolic aortic regurgitant murmur heard at the apex – the Austin Flint Murmur (1862)

  • Born on October 20, 1812, Petersham, Massachusetts. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were also physicians. 
  • 1833 – Graduated from Harvard Medical School.
  • 1835– Married Anne Skillings; their son, Austin Flint, Jr., who became a prominent physiologist, was born in 1836.
  • 1844 – Professor of Medical Theory and Practice at Rush Medical School, Chicago.
  • 1845 – Founded and edited the Buffalo Medical and Surgical Journal.
  • 1847 – Founded the Buffalo Medical School.
  • 1852 – Became Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine, University of Louisville.
  • 1860 – Professor of Pathology and Practice Medicine at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.
  • 1861 – Helped found Bellevue Hospital and Medical School and became Professor of theoretical and practical medicine.
  • 1883 – President of the American Medical Association.
  • 1868 – Retired, but continued to teach until he died suddenly in March 1886 of a cerebral haemorrhage after attending a meeting of the faculty of the Bellevue Medical College the evening before.
  • Died on March 13, 1886

Medical Eponyms
Austin Flint Murmur (1862)

A mid-diastolic to late diastolic or presystolic mitral murmur best heard at the apex that is low-pitched and rumbling in the presence of aortic regurgitation with no underlying mitral pathology

The murmur is oftener rough than soft. The roughness is often peculiar. It is a blubbering sound, resembling that produced by throwing the lips or the tongue into vibration with the breath of respiration

Flint A. 1862: 50

Flint’s Law (1852)

The relationship of elevated audible pitch and diminished percussion resonance in pulmonary consolidation.

An elevation of pitch always accompanies diminution of resonance in consequence of pulmonary consolidation. In other words, dullness of resonance is never present without the pitch being raised.

Austin Flint 1852: 5


Flint was a harsh critic of eponymous names…

So long as signs are determined from fancied analogies and named from those or after the person who describes them, there cannot but be obscurity and confusion.

Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp 1912; 23: 184

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  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 |

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