George Grey Turner

George Grey Turner (1877 – 1951)

George Grey Turner (1877-1951) was an English surgeon.

Eponymously affiliated with Grey Turner sign after his description of flank ecchymosis in 1919. Global traveler had audiences with the Pope, Mussolini, the King of Italy and King Alfonso of Spain.

Involved in the embryonic stages of cancer research, he anticipated the development of chemotherapy and published a hopeful tome entitled – Some Encouragements in Cancer Surgery in 1925.

Grey Turner firmly believed that “We shall never overcome cancer by surgery: it will be something we will inject…”

  • Born on September 8, 1877
  • Medical training at Rutherford Technical College in Newcastle upon Tyne and the University of Durham College of Medicine
  • 1899 – Royal Victoria Infirmary, under Rutherford Morrison
  • 1903 – Fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons
  • WWI – Served with the Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 1927 – Professor of Surgery in the University of Durham
  • 1934 – President of the Medical Society of London
  • Died on August 24, 1951

Medical Eponyms
Grey Turner sign (1919)

Atraumatic abdominal ecchymosis, in particular – bruising of the flanks

1920 – George Grey Turner published a paper on ‘Local discoloration of the abdominal wall as a sign of acute pancreatitis‘ citing two cases of acute pancreatitis with fat necrosis and retroperitoneal haemorrhage, the Grey Turner sign

The first case from 1912 concerned a 54 year old female with three days of abdominal pain presenting with an area of discoloration (a bluish colour), about 6 inches in diameter involving the abdominal wall surrounding the umbilicus.

the patient suffered from acute pancreatitis, with much effusion into the peritoneal cavity. She lived nine days after operation, and the post-mortem examination disclosed a sloughing pancreas with much fat necrosis

Grey Turner 1920

The second case from 1917 promoted the publication. “In a cursory examination of the voluminous literature on pancreatitis I have not observed any mention of this sign

The tenderness over the gall-bladder region was very marked, and I now noticed two large discoloured areas in the loins. They were about the size of the palm of the hand, slightly raised above the surface, and of a dirty-greenish colour.

Grey Turner 1920
Image of Grey Turners Sign: Original Photo: 1917. Colourised: Ercleve T. 2018

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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