John Birkett (1815 - 1904)

John Birkett (1815-1904) was an English general surgeon.

General surgeon and specialist in breast diseases, including breast cancer, as well as being an early advocate of histology

  • Born on April 14, 1815, Upper Clapton, Middlesex, England
  • 1837 – MRCS
  • 1844 – FRCS
  • Died on July 6, 1904 at London, England

Medical Eponyms
Pipkin femoral head fracture (1957)

Classification system for femoral head fractures usually in association with hip dislocations.

1869 – Birkett provided the first published case description of femoral head fracture. Birkett reported the case of a 35-year-old woman who died following a fall from a window. Autopsy demonstrated left hip dislocation with a femoral head fracture.

femoral head fracture Pipkin classification John Birkett (1815 - 1904) 1869

On further examination it was discovered that a portion of the head of the femur had been broken off. This fragment, to which the greater part of the ligamentum teres was still attached, remained in the acetabulum.

Authorities upon the subject of dislocations of the joints do not even allude to this complication. Malgaigne states “Les luxations du femur ne sont guere compliquees que de fractures soit des os du bassin, soit du femur meme soit d’autres os plus eloignes (The luxations of the femur are but little complicated with fractures, either of the pelvic bones, the femur itself, or more distant bones)” 

Having failed to find a parallel case in the book of Robert W. Smith of Dublin, I wrote to that gentleman who did me the favour to reply as follows “Although tolerably familiar with the literature of fractures and luxations I am not aware of any similar injury having been placed on record as happening to the head of the femur.” 

We have then, probably, under observation an injury hitherto undescribed.

Birkett 1869

Birkett hernia: inguinal hernia where the sac extends into the anterior or inferior wall [aka Synovial hernia]

Birkett forceps; Birkett artery forceps; Birkett haemostatic forceps

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


the person behind the name

Dr Conor O'Reilly, MB BCh BAO BComm, University College Dublin / Dublin City University, Ireland. In Australia working in Emergency Medicine with an interest in Sports medicine

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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