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Biographical entry Brodhurst, Bernard Edward (1822 - 1900)

MRCS June 28th 1844; FRCS May 12th 1859.

4 February 1822
30 January 1900
General surgeon


Born at the Friary, Newark, on Feb 4th, 1822, and in 1840 was articled at the Royal College of Surgeons to John Goldwyer Andrews (qv), the Senior Surgeon of the London Hospital. After qualifying he was appointed House Surgeon, and after serving a year went to Paris, where he attended the hospitals and made the acquaintance of Maisonneuve, whose private surgical operations he attended. He then went to Vienna and studied ophthalmic surgery with Jaeger and Rosas, and pathological anatomy with Rokitansky. In the large Viennese school, with its 4000 beds, he studied for twelve months. Prague was next visited by him, then Berlin. He afterwards turned south and visited the schools of Pavia, Pisa, and Florence. He arrived in Rome at the end of 1848, or more likely early in 1849, in company with Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861), the poet, who during his stay there wrote his “Amours de Voyage”. Garibaldi at this time occupied the city with his troops, and on April 30th, 1849, 5000 French under Oudinot advanced against it. The French general expected to enter Rome without firing a shot; he brought no cannon with him, and his men carried unloaded rifles, Garibaldi, who had planted guns on the French road of approach outside the city, repulsed the invaders with great loss, and took 300 prisoners. An ambuscade was formed in the gardens of the Vatican, where for a short time the fight was very bloody, and many students and other young men of the Roman States were slain. About thirty of the prisoners who were brought within the walls were badly wounded. They were conveyed to the Hospital della Spirito Santo. The beds which they occupied were arranged along one side of the ward, whilst their enemies, the wounded Italians, were placed along the opposite side. After this exploit the French retreated to Palo, there to await reinforcements. The French prisoners had not sufficient faith in their victors to trust their bodies to the Italian surgeons, and in consequence requested that they might be attended by any foreigner who chanced to be in Rome. The triumvirs, of whom Mazzini was chief, made this request known to the English then residing there, and added their own desire that they should undertake the duty. This was agreed to. But after the event of April 30th strangers were anxious to get away, and departed as fast as they could; so that in a short time only a few were left. Brodhurst agreed to remain with a non-medical friend to see the end of the matter, and during the greater part of the siege, which continued until June 30th, they were, with the exception of a few artists and three or four other English residents, the only English remaining in Rome. Thus it devolved upon Brodhurst to superintend the treatment of the wounded. When it is mentioned that on the side of the French 5000 men were slain, wounded, or prostrated by malaria, it will at once be seen that the siege of Rome afforded a good opportunity for observations in military surgery. The invading army consisted of 45,000 men.

On leaving Rome Brodhurst was presented with the cross of the Legion of Honour by the Commander-in-Chief of the French troops, Marshal Baraquay d’Hilliers. Lord Palmerston is said to have offered him a baronetcy for his services. Returning to London, he was elected in 1852 a Surgeon on the staff of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, and in 1862 was elected Assistant Surgeon at St George’s Hospital. In 1869 he intimated his inability, owing to pressure of private practice, to continue to devote so much time to hospital work, and he was then elected Surgeon with Orthopaedic Wards and held this post till 1874. He was Surgeon to the Orthopaedic Hospital at the time of his death. He was also for a time Lecturer on Orthopaedic Surgery at St George’s, and was on the staff of the Royal Hospital for Incurables, and Consulting Surgeon of the Belgrave Hospital for Children. For many years he had the chief orthopaedic practice in England, and he roused some jealousy in the profession by what were then thought to be unduly high fees for his operations. He was well known abroad, and was an Associate of the Academy of Sciences of Rome, and Corresponding Member of the Medical Societies of Lyons, Odessa, and Rome, of the Chirurgical Society of Paris, and of the American Orthopaedic Association. His London address was first at 14 Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, then at 20 Grosvenor Street for many years, and finally at 21 Portland Place, W. He died on Jan 30th, 1900.

Brodhurst’s extensive bibliography includes:
Of the Crystalline Lens and Cataract, 8vo, 2 plates, London, 1850.
On Lateral Curvature of the Spine, its Pathology and Treatment, 8vo, London, 1855; 2nd ed., 1864.
On the Nature and Treatment of Club-foot and Analogous Distortions involving the Tibio-tarsal Articulation, 8vo, London, 1856.
“On the Restoration of Motion by Forcible Extension and Rupture of the Uniting Medium of Partially Anchylosed Surfaces,” 8vo, London, 1858; reprinted from Med. Times and Gaz.
The Deformities of the Human Body: a System of Orthopoedic Surgery, 8vo, illustrated, London, 1871.
Lectures on Orthopoedic Surgery delivered at St George’s Hospital, 8vo, illustrated, London, 1876.
On Curvatures and Disease of the Spine, 8vo, illustrated, London, 1888 (4 editions).
On the Nature and Treatment of Talipes Equinovarus or Club-foot, 8vo, London, 1893.
“On Congenital Talipes Equinovarus, with Observations on Tarsectomy,” 8vo, London, 1894; reprinted from Prov. Med. Jour.
Practical Observations on the Diseases of the Joints involving Anchylosis, and on the Treatment for the Restoration of Motion, 8vo, London, 1861; 4th ed., 1881.
“Gonorrhoeal Rheumatism” in Reynold’s System, i, 1866.
“Congenital Dislocation and Intra-uterine Fracture” in Holmes’s Surgery, iv, 1864, 1871, and 1883.
Observations on Congenital Dislocation of the Hip, 8vo, London, 1896 (3 editions).
Many contributions to English and foreign medical journals.
In a paper read before the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society he advocated the exhibition of mercury and arsenic in cases of hydrophobia. His paper on ankylosis read before the same Society (Trans. Med.-Chin Soc., 1857, xl, 125) gave rise to a very lively discussion, Mr Coulson contending that the cases were not correctly reported, and that such results were impossible. Fortunately, however, a young officer who had been operated on was present – he of whom it had been said by Sir Benjamin Brodie that “he must take his stiff hip with him to the grave!” Coulson examined him, and then withdrew his statement in complimentary terms. But the patient made them all laugh by expressing his surprise, not only that Sir Benjamin should have reported of him as he did, but that Coulson should have made such observations, seeing that he had as good a hip-joint as ever he had in his life.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med. Circular, 1852, i, 375. Prov. Med. Jour., 1893, xii, 169, with portrait. Brit. Med. Jour., 1900, i, 548].

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