John Cheyne

John Cheyne (1777 – 1836)

John Cheyne (1777 – 1836) was a Scottish surgeon and physician.

Eponymously affiliated with Cheyne-Stokes Respiration (1818) and wrote extensively on laryngotracheitis and hydrocephalus in children.


  • Born 3 February 1777 Leith
  • 1792-1795 Medical school, University of Edinburgh. His father being a surgeon, Cheyne was able to commence medical studies at 15 and graduate at 18…
  • 1795-1799 Surgeon with an artillery corps. Served at the Battle of Vinegar Hill
  • 1799-1810 Worked as a surgeon with his father
  • 1811 – Worked in Meath Hospital, Dublin
  • 1813-1819 – Professor of Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • 1820 – Physician General to British forces in Ireland. Lecturer in War Medicine
  • Died 31 January 1836

Key Medical Attributes

  • 1812 – distinguished subarachnoid haemorrhage from intracerebral haemorrhage, and provided likely the first illustration of subarachnoid haemorrhage.
  • 1818 – Described aorta steatomatous 
  • 1818 – Described Cheyne-Stokes breathing

Medical Eponyms

  • Cheyne-Stokes Respiration (1818)
    • Abnormal pattern of breathing which oscillates between hyperventilation and apnoea seen in the end stages of illness

Major Publications


  • Cheyne was tutored at the University of Edinburgh by Alexander Munro (1733-1817), who described the interventricular foramen
  • Hippocrates described Cheyne-Stokes breathing over two millennia earlier as ‘respiration throughout like that of a man recollecting himself, and rare, and large’.
  • Cheyne suffered from depression towards the end of his life and wrote ‘Essays on the partial derangement of themind’ as a therapeutic exercise


eponymictionary CTA 2


the person behind the name

Emergency Medicine Trainee based in Perth, Western Australia. A wise man once told me "just work...harder"


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