Sidney Yankauer

Sidney Yankauer (1872–1932) 340

Sidney Yankauer (1872–1932) was an American otolaryngologist.

Yankauer was a pioneer endoscopist who made very important contributions to ENT surgery. He was a prolific inventor of surgical and anaesthetic equipment.

The son of German Jewish immigrants he was one of six. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the City College of New York in 1890; which at the time was the first free public institution for higher education. He went on to complete his medical degree in 1893.

His first years as a Doctor was mainly based in the Department of surgery in the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City; before specialising in ears, nose and throat. In 1917 he was made attending laryngologist and laryngology became its own department at Mount Sinai. In World War I he served as a major for the United States Army in France in a unit mainly served by fellow Mount Sinai Doctors.

Yankauer was a prolific inventor during his life and a skilled physician (in 1905 he was the first physician in New York City to remove a foreign body by bronchoscopy). Eponymously affiliated with Yankauer suction tip; many surgical instruments and ENT procedures

  • Born on March 27, 1872 in New York City, New York
  • 1890 – Graduated from City College of New York
  • 1893 – Graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • 1904 – Designed the Yankauer ether/chloroform mask
  • 1907 – Designed the Yankauer sucker
  • 1916 – President of the Mount Sinai Alumni Association
  • 1917 – made attending laryngologist
  • 1918-1919 Served as a major for the United States Army in France
  • 1928 – President of the American Bronchoscopic Society
  • Died on August 27, 1932 of heart disease at Mount Sinai hospital

Medical Eponyms
Yankauer mask (1904) [Yankauer-Gwathmey Mask]
Yankauer mask (1904)

The chloroform mask herewith presented has two new features which render it of special value. The body of the mask consists of a framework of wire netting, instead of the one or two wires usually arranged for the support of the gauze covering the mask. This wire netting comes in contact with the gauze and supports its entire surface, thus preventing it from flapping back and forth with respiration, and from coming in contact with the nose and cheeks. The edge of the wire netting is continued into a metal gutter, shaped to fit the face, which turns up the edge of the gauze and prevents this from touching the skin. By keeping the gauze saturated with chloroform away from the skin a ” chloroform burn ” cannot occur, as the vapor of chloroform does not blister the skin.

Yankauer 1904

The mask was simple in design and had a wire mesh to place gauze on; liquid anaesthetic such as chloroform could then be placed on the gauze. The mask also had a gutter to catch surplus liquid anaesthetic. The mask was modified by Gwathmey to allow the administration of oxygen alongside the anaesthetic.

Yankauer suction catheter (1907)

The Yankauer’s suction catheter is most probably the commonest suction device used in modern medicine. However an original description/publication of Yankauer’s suction catheter is not found within the literature.

It was initially designed to keep a surgical field clear and was intended for use during tonsillectomies. Its rose end helped to prevent soft tissue damage whilst its curved angle helped provide a good view for its placement.

Yankauer laryngeal medicator (1907)

At the request of Dr. George Mannheimer, an internist of Mount Sinai Dispensary, I devised this little apparatus for the especial purpose of enablng tuberculous patients to make applications of thick and viscid fluids (orthoform emulsion) to the larynx at their own homes. The device has proven so efficient that I have extended its use to the self-treatment of other laryngeal conditions with entire satisfaction.

It consists of a strong glass tube, bent at right angles at one end, slightly flattened near the other end, and fitted with a small rubber bulb holding about 3ij.

Yankauer 1907
Yankauer Speculum (1911)

Yankauer Speculum for the Direct Examination and Treatment of the Nasopharynx and Eustachian Tubes.

Yankauer Speculum for the Direct Examination and Treatment of the Nasopharynx and Eustachian Tubes

This speculum consists of a tube of a peculiar shape which is introduced into the nasopharynx, and illuminated by means of the ordinary head-light. It acts as a palate lifter, and as the anterior wall of that part which lifts the palate is on a straight line with the posterior wall of the part which presses the mouth back, it enables us to bring into view the orifice of the eustachian tube and part of its anterior wall.

Yankauer 1911
Yankauer surgical instruments (1917)

Yankauer designed myriad instruments for surgical operations, some of which are outlined in Loeb’s Operative surgery of the nose, throat, and ear, for laryngologists, rhinologists, otologists, and surgeons. 1917

Yankauer salpingeal instruments
Yankauer antrum punch
Yankauer tonsil scissors
Yankauer suction and pressure anesthesia pump (1920)

The Yankauer suction and pressure pump allowed for the simultaneous administration of ether whilst allowing for suction at the same time. One tube was used to pump ether anaesthetic into the patients mouth, whilst at the same time a Yankauer catheter provided suction.

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


Dr Alex Johnson LITFL Author

Doctor currently working in South Wales, training in anaesthetics. Graduated Leeds University with MB ChB with BSc in microbiology in relation to medicine. Special interests in emergency medicine, critical care and anaesthetics

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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