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Biographical entry Keegan, Denis Francis (1840 - 1920)

MRCS July 30th 1861; FRCS (elected as a Member of twenty years' standing) April 9th 1891; MD Trinity College Dublin 1865.

1 January 1920
General surgeon


Born in Ireland, and received his professional training at Trinity College, Dublin. He joined the Bengal Army as Assistant Surgeon on March 31st, 1866, and retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He did most of his service in Central India, where his fine personality was a political influence of the first magnitude. He was for fifteen years Residency Surgeon at Indore, and here, in the Charitable Hospital, he won a great reputation in the performance of rhinoplastic operations. "During my service in India", he says in the preface to his work on Rhinoplastic Operations (3vo, London, 1900), "I often had occasion to perform operations for the repair of mutilated noses, and as my experience increased, I found that certain modifications of the ordinary procedure added to the efficiency of the results." 'Traumatic mutilation of the nose' is vastly more common in India than in Western Europe. "A large proportion of the noseless patients in India are women, almost invariably of the lower castes, who, when they are in need of medical or surgical aid, have no hesitation in attending the dispensaries and hospitals superintended by civil surgeons throughout India." Litholapaxy - the crushing of a calculus in the bladder, followed at once by the washing out of the fragments - he extended to children.

He was a Member of the East India United Service Club, whence he dates the book above quoted, and, after living long in retirement, died at Killiney on New Year's Day, 1920, being survived by a son and two daughters. Lieut-Colonel Henry Smith, IMS, of Amritsar, wrote as follows to the medical journals:

"The death of Colonel Keegan removes one of the grandest figures in the history of the Indian Medical Service. The work he did will live for generations and he will be more honoured in his urn than he was when alive. This is the fate of all great pioneers. Death removes them from the field of jealousy. He, with Peter Freyer, fought the controversy on litholapaxy. We are all familiar with the great work Keegan did in rhinoplasty, and how he established the Indian operation as the operation for all time. He was a powerful, clear, and incisive though courteous controversialist. Keegan was a man with a fine imagination, a powerful and versatile intellect and a strong character. It is only a very able man in any public service who can go his own way and live as an official. Keegan did this. As a man he was one of the most kind-hearted, the most generous and the most genial. He was firm in his friendships. He had too much pride for servility and too little prudence for selfishness. He was the finest type of Irishman."

Yet he received no decoration from Government.

"Litholapaxy in Male Children and Male Adults," 8vo, London, 1887; reprinted from Lancet, 1886, ii, 1068, etc. See also Ind Med Gaz, 1885, xx, 178, 267; 1886, xxi, 161.
"Notes on Stone in the Bladder," 8vo, London, 1897; reprinted from Lancet, 1897, i, 91, etc.
Rhinoplastic Operations with a Description of Recent Improvements in the Indian Method, 8vo, with 21 phototype portraits (of Hindoo women, etc.) and 11 engravings, London, 1900.
"Topical Application of Cocaine in Hydrophobia." - Ind Med Gaz, 1885, xx, 65.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England