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Biographical entry Teale, Thomas Pridgin senior (1801 - 1867)

MRCS Jan 3rd 1823; FRCS Dec 11th 1843 one of the original 300 Fellows; Hon MD Dublin 1867; FRS 1862.

1 January 1801
31 December 1867
General surgeon


There were four Teales, surgeons, connected with Leeds - Thomas Pridgin Teale, senr, his father, and his two sons, Thomas Pridgin Teale, junr (qv), and John William Teale (qv).

Thomas Pridgin Teale, senr, was born on Jan 1st, 1801, in Leeds, where his father had a large practice, and was educated at the United Borough Hospitals in London. He settled in his native town and was elected Surgeon to the Leeds Public Dispensary in 1824, and acquired fame, when only 22 years of age, as the first provincial surgeon to tie the subclavian artery for axillary aneurysm. In 1831 he took an active part in the foundation of the Leeds School of Medicine, where he delivered the Introductory Address. In 1833 he resigned his post at the Dispensary and was appointed Surgeon to the Leeds General Infirmary, to which institution he rendered notable service until his resignation in 1864, when he was appointed Consulting Surgeon. In the Leeds Medical School he held the post of Lecturer on Anatomy and Physiology, and it may be believed that the prestige of the Leeds School was in great measure enhanced by Teale's work and personality.

Teale began to write at an early age. His earliest production is a small volume On Neuralgic Diseases dependent upon Irritation of the Spinal Marrow and Ganglia of the Sympathetic Nerve (8vo, London, 1829; twice reprinted in the United States), in which he advanced more scientific views of neuralgic diseases than was then usual. He is now remembered by the operation known as 'Teale's amputation', which served a useful purpose when as yet no amputations were deemed practicable on the foot or ankle and when stumps always suppurated, though it has now fallen into disuse since they heal by first intention. The method consisted in amputating the leg or forearm by a long and a very short rectangular flap, and was designed to avoid the formation of a cicatrix over the end of the sawn bone, because a scar in this position was found to be too tender to allow of the wearing of an artificial limb with any degree of comfort. The description of the operation was published in 1858, and Teale said:

"In my early days of practice, upwards of thirty years ago, when fresh from the school of Lisfranc, I adopted the transfixion method by two lateral flaps. Charmed by the brilliancy of the operation I expected it would prove equal to the utmost wishes of the surgeon. In the dissecting-room it was certainly admirable, but when practised on the living it did not equal my expectations and soon gave way to the circular method. At a later period the example and strong recommendation of others led me to adopt the plan of transfixion with an anterior and posterior flap. This proceeding was soon left off in favour of the circular incision, which I continued to practise until the middle of the year 1855, when the method of operating was adopted which it is now my object to describe."

In addition to possessing skill in surgery, he was a keen observer and a worker in comparative anatomy and anthropology. He was a constant contributor to the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, in which he held the office of Hon Curator of the Zoological Department for many years. In the Transactions of this Society may be found numerous papers showing his original character and the diversity of his interests. He described a zoophyte - the Alcyonella - not previously recognized as indigenous in British ponds and gave anatomical descriptions of Actinia. He also read an important paper on a geological deposit in the valley of the Aire near Leeds.

In addition to his surgical activities, Teale was appointed a member of the General Medical Council at its institution in 1858, and on June 4th, 1862, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. His photograph is in the College Album.

He died on Dec 31st, 1867, at his Leeds residence, St James's Lodge. He had married, in 1827, the eldest daughter of the Rev Charles Isherwood, of Brotherton, Yorkshire, by whom he had two sons - Thomas Pridgin, junr (qv), and John William (qv).

Teale's publications were numerous and include:-
Practical Treatise on Abdominal Hernia, 8vo, London, 1846.
A series of papers on plastic operations, contributed to the Med Times and Gaz; reprinted, 8vo, London, 1857.
The publication for which Teale is best known is Amputation by a Long and a Short Rectangular Flap, 8vo, London, 1858. This method of amputation is still known as 'Teale's amputation'.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Photographs of Eminent Men of all Countries, with Brief Analytical Notices of their Works, 1867, i, by T H Barker and Ernest Edwards. Brit Jour Surg, 1923-4, xi, 605, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England