William Henry Battle

William Henry Battle (1855 – 1936)

William Henry Battle (1855 – 1936) was an English surgeon.

Eponynmously associated with a sign, incision and operation…best known for his description of a mastoid ecchymosis as an indicator of a skull base fracture (Battle sign)

Credited with the first report of a laparotomy to relieve intestinal obstruction resulting from adhesions

Served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Actively contributions to The Lancet editorial board and British Medical Association


  • Born 23rd February 1855 Lincoln, England
  • 1877 – Graduated from St. Thomas’s Medical School, London
  • 1889 – Appointed Hunterian Professor in Surgery and Pathology (Royal College of Surgeons)
  • 1892 – Editor of “A Mirror of hospital practice” a feature in The Lancet
  • 1914-18 No 5 London general hospital, with rank of lieutenant-colonel, RAMC
  • Died 2nd February 1936 Woking, Surrey

Medical Eponyms

  • Battle sign – Postauricular (mastoid) ecchymosis as an indication of fracture of the base of the skull.
  • Battle incision – vertical incision of the abdominal wall with temporary retraction of the rectus muscle medially.
  • Battle operation – alternate operative approach for femoral hernia repair

Major Publications


eponymictionary CTA


the person behind the name

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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