Hugh Spear Pemberton

Hugh Spear Pemberton (1890-1956) was an English physician.

Specific interest in diabetes. Published papers in the British Medical Journal on diabetes, thyrotoxicosis, peripheral vascular disease, and hospital planning

Pemberton’s description of the eponymous Pemberton Sign appeared in a brief letter to The Lancet in 1946


  • Born June 1890
  • 1913 – MB ChB, Liverpool University
  • 1914-1918 RAMC in WWI
  • 1921 – MRCP
  • 1922 – Founded the diabetic clinic at the Northern Hospital
  • 1946 – FRCP
  • Died 15 January 1956

Medical Eponyms

  • Pemberton sign (1946) The development of facial plethora, cyanosis and distension of neck veins with raising both arms simultaneously (Pemberton maneuver). Positive test indicates thoracic inlet obstruction, originally described in patients with retrosternal goitre but may also be seen in lung carcinoma, lymphomas, thymomas, dermoid cysts or aortic aneurysms.

SIR,-There is a useful sign given by a submerged or intrathoracic goitre which I have. employed and taught for many years. It consists in getting the patient to elevate both arms until they touch the sides of the head; after a moment or so, congestion of the face, some cyanosis, and lastly distress become apparent—presumably from narrowing of the thoracic inlet and obstruction of the venous return. I have not seen it in superior mediastinal block. Doubtless the sign has been described before and even bears a name, but I am unaware of it.

Lancet, 1946

Major Publications


eponymictionary CTA


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 |

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