Thomas Morgan Rotch

Thomas Morgan Rotch (1849-1914)

Thomas Morgan Rotch (1849-1914) was an American pediatrician.

Rotch was America’s first full professor of pediatrics; an ardent advocate for the care of premature infants and invented a unique pediatric incubator.

Rotch modified the percentage of fat, carbohydrate, and protein in cow’s milk to make it percentage-wise similar to mother’s milk, an ideal food for the artificial feeding of infants.


  • Born 1849
  • Died 1914

Medical Eponyms

Rotch sign (1878)

Absence of resonance in the fifth right intercostal space diagnostic of pericardial effusion. Rotch related cadaveric experiments with fluid injection to the pericardial sac, to his clinical case notes.

William Ewart (1848 – 1929) in 1896, defined the Twelve signs of pericardial effusion and included Rotch’s sign, the 4th sign, as “Dulness in the Right Fifth Intercartilaginous Space”

Rotch pediatric incubator (1893)

Dr. Rotch said that children born before the seventh month are almost always lost when treated by the usual methods, and even with the aid of such incubators as have been heretofore devised. This new form of incubator, has none of the disadvantages of older ones, while possessing many new and useful features. Some of the more important requirements of such an apparatus are:

  1. It must be so constructed as to admit of thorough cleansing and disinfection.
  2. It must be portable so that it may be brought quickly, preferably from a central station, to any house where it may be needed.
  3. Provision must be made for thorough and automatic ventilation.
  4. The external air must be modified before it is admitted to the incubator.
  5. lt must be so arranged that the temperature of the incubator can be easily and accurately adjusted to any point desired by the individual physician.
  6. The air should be clean, for it takes very little to destroy the life of these premature infants.
  7. As in these children, there is often considerable pulmonary atalectasis, it is desirable that provisions be made for increasing, when desired, the proportion of oxygen in the air admitted to the incubator.
  8. As one of the best danger signals is lost [sic] of weight of the infant, the construction of the apparatus should be such as to admit of determining at any time the weight of the baby without exhausting it, as is invariably the case by the usual method of weighing.

Rotch TM. Description of a New Incubator. Archives of Pediatrics 1893; 10: 661-665

Rotch pediatric incubator (1893)
Rotch pediatric incubator
Rotch pediatric incubator 2

Key Medical Attributions


Major Publications


eponymictionary CTA


the person behind the name

Doctor in Australia. Keen interest in internal medicine, medical education, and medical history.

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