Douglas Theodore Prehn (1901 – 1974) was an American urologist whose name is associated with a clinical sign for differentiating between testicular torsion and acute epididymitis
CAPT Douglas T. Prehn, MC, USN (Ret)
He was also granted a patent for a formula used to treat fungus infections of the skin.
- Born on August 1, 1901 in Marathon, Wisconsin, USA
- 1925 -Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, University of Wisconsin on the ‘toxicity of mercuric salicylate in rabbits’
- 1927 – Doctor of Medicine (MD) from College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York; Intern at the Brooklyn Naval Hospital
- 1929-1931 Served aboard USS Chaumont
- 1935 – Division Medical Officer with USS J.D. Ford
- 1940 – Urologist at the Naval Dispensary at the Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut before assuming the position of chief of Urology at the Brooklyn Naval Hospital, New York
- Chief of Urology at Camp Peary Hospital and Chelsea Naval Hospital in Massachusetts
- 1953 – Retired from service
- Died on June 30, 1974 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA
- CAPT Prehn held the 2nd Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, Yangtze Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars. Navy Occupation Service Medal, and WWII Victory Medal.
Prehn’s sign (1934)
Refers to the increase in pain with elevation of the scrotum seen with testicular torsion. In current practice, it is more commonly described as elevation of the scrotum not decreasing pain. It is a clinical sign which may help differentiate the presentation of acute epididymitis – where pain may be relieved with elevation – compared with testicular torsion.
It has been my experience in the treatment of hundreds of cases of acute epididymitis that when the scrotum is elevated with the Blockley bandage as suggested by Pelouze or the Bellevue suspensory bandage, immediate relief of the acute symptoms occurs, and frequently the patients get out of bed to walk about or resume their normal activities. Because of this experience I came upon a new sign which in both cases was the differential point and deciding factor in changing the diagnosis to torsion of the cord resulting in the necessary operative interference…
…In both cases reported acute epididymitis was ruled out by this positive sign; namely, elevation of the scrotum increased the pain and tenderness and did not give relief as it would in acute epididymitisPrehn, 1934
Key Medical Contributions
1939: Patented a therapeutic agent for the treatment and prevention of mycotic and similar skin infections consisting of a composition containing Salicylic acid, menthol and camphor. [US2175780]
- Prehn DT. The toxicity of mercuric salicylate in rabbits. University of Wisconsin-Madison 1925
- Prehn DT. A New Sign in the Differential Diagnosis Between Torsion of the Spermatic Cord and Epididymitis. Journal of Urology, 1934; 32(2): 191-200
- Prehn DT. A treatment for the superficial mycotic infections of the glabrous skin. JAMA. 1938; 111(8): 685-688
- Prehn DT. A pyelographic sign in the diagnosis of perinephric abscess. J Urol. 1946 Jan;55:8-17.
- Prehn DT. A treatment for the superficial fungus infections of the skin. Urol Cutaneous Rev. 1946 Jul;50:416-8.
- In memoriam: CAPT Douglas T. Prehn. U.S. Navy Medicine. 1974; 64(5): 51
- Bibliography. Prehn, Douglas Theodore. WorldCat Identities
- Angell JC. Torsion of the testicle. A plea for diagnosis. Lancet. 1963 Jan 5;1(7271):19-21.
- Corriere JN Jr. Horizontal lie of the testicle: a diagnostic sign in torsion of the testis. J Urol. 1972 Apr;107(4):616-7.
- Nöske HD, Kraus SW, Altinkilic BM, Weidner W. Historical milestones regarding torsion of the scrotal organs. J Urol. 1998 Jan;159(1):13-6.
- Boettcher M, Bergholz R, Krebs TF, Wenke K, Aronson DC. Clinical predictors of testicular torsion in children. Urology. 2012 Mar;79(3):670-4.
- Sharp VJ, Kieran K, Arlen AM. Testicular torsion: diagnosis, evaluation, and management. Am Fam Physician. 2013 Dec 15;88(12):835-40.
- Fehér AM, Bajory Z. A review of main controversial aspects of acute testicular torsion. Journal of Acute Disease 2016; 5(1): 1-8
the person behind the name
Associate Professor Curtin Medical School, Curtin University. Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM 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 |