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Biographical entry Walne, Daniel Henry (1796 - 1866)

MRCS May 2nd 1817; FRCS Dec 11th 1843 one of the original 300 Fellows.

3 October 1866
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Practised as a surgeon at 72 Guilford Street, London, WC, where he was Surgeon to the German Hospital and at one time President of the Hunterian Society.

He has a place among the early operators upon ovarian cysts in this country, as described by him in the London Medical Gazette (1842-3, xxxi, 437, 672; 1843, xxxii, 544, 699, 944; 1843-4, xxxiii, 47, 686, 723). He commenced the description of his first case - "Removal of a Dropsical Ovarium entire by the Large Abdominal Section" - with a history of ovariotomy. Nathan Smith and Blundell had made a short incision of about three inches, McDowell a much longer incision; Lizars one of twelve inches in length, and his patient had been exhibited in London. Charles Clay of Manchester had operated on Sept 12th by a long incision; Wain followed on Nov 6th, 1842, on a woman aged 58, his diagnosis being confirmed by James Blundell, Lecturer on Obstetrics at St Thomas's and Guy's Hospitals, and four friends who were present and assisted at the operation. The woman was seated propped up on a couch in her own bedroom, and Walne's finger was passed into the peritoneum through an incision one and a half inches long; this was then enlarged to rather more than thirteen inches by means of a probe-pointed bistoury guided by two fingers. As the tumour prolapsed, one assistant pressed the abdominal wound margin together to prevent prolapse of intestines; another held up the tumour, weighing 16 3/4 lb, whilst the pellicle was transfixed and tied. An additional ligature round the pedicle stopped all bleeding. The other ovary was examined by Blundell's finger and found normal; the wound was closed by a dozen interrupted sutures. There is reproduced a drawing of the cystic tumour. The ligatures which had been left long came away about ten weeks after the operation.

Walne operated on a second case on May 30th, 1843 - patient of John Mussendine Camplin, of 11 Finsbury Square, a woman aged about 57 - in the presence of Blundell and several others including foreigners - Sewall of Washington, Klein of W├╝rtemberg, Freund of Vienna. The cystic tumour was very similar and weighed the same (16f 3/4 lb) as in the first case. The ligatures came away after five weeks.

He operated on his third case on June 27th, 1843, on an unmarried woman aged 20, a patient of John Elliotson, MD, who had been Physician to St Thomas's and University College Hospitals. There were again present Blundell and seven other friends. He made an incision fourteen inches in length; the tumour consisted mainly of one large cyst, and altogether weighed 28 lb. The patient made an even more rapid recovery than the previous two.

A fourth case which had been previously tapped had become complicated by adhesions and Walne abandoned the attempt to remove it. Tapping was continued. A fifth case on Oct 19th, 1843, had been tapped; on opening the peritoneum much fluid, free in the peritoneal cavity, escaped, and the ovarian cyst found floating free was removed through a fifteen-inch incision. A uterine fibromyoma the size of almost a full-grown foetus was left alone. The wound was closed. The patient died nine days later. At the post-mortem examination pus was found around the uterine tumours and the pedicle. One may remark that the operations were done in the presence of Blundell, surgeons such as Bransby Cooper, J P Vincent, and distinguished foreigners. Three cases escaped peritonitis although Blundell's fingers were inserted as well as Walne's.

Walne published other observations: "On the Results of the Operation for Strabismus" (Lond Med Gaz, 1841-2, xxix, 788); "On the Cure of Hydrocele" (Ibid, 945). He employed 'puncture' for the cure of hydrocele, following Velpeau. This meant passing a fine curette through a puncture and scratching the inner surface of the hydrocele wall. He alternated this with injections of iodine. In his papers "On the Application of Ligatures in the Treatment of Vascular Tumours" (Lond Med Gaz, 1847, iv, 993) he described the treatment of naevi, etc, by transfixing and surrounding with ligatures.

Walne died at 72 Guilford Street, on Oct 3rd, 1866. His photograph is in the College Album.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England