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Biographical entry Pattison, Alfred Richard Denis (1906 - 1940)

MRCS 14 February 1929; FRCS 14 May 1931; MB BS Dunelm 1929; LRCP 1929.

10 April 1906
Howden-le-Wear, County Durham
7 June 1940
Neurological surgeon


Born on 10 April 1906 at High Grange, Howden-le-Wear, Co Durham, the eldest son of Charles Arthur Pattison, mining engineer, and Annie Isabella Chilton, his wife. He was educated at Clifton House School, at Durham School, and at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne School of Medicine. He served as resident medical officer and surgical registrar at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was awarded the Rutherford Morison travelling scholarship and was thus able to visit Berlin, where he learnt much from Ferdinand Sauerbruch, and to spend a year at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, Mass, where he came under the influence of Harvey Cushing and was confirmed in his desire to devote his life to the surgery of the nervous system. On his return to England he established a neurosurgical clinic at the Newcastle Hospital, was appointed neurological surgeon to the Royal Infirmary and to the Children's Hospital, Sunderland, and on 8 February 1937 delivered an important lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons, as Hunterian professor, on Cushing's syndrome of basophile adenoma of the pituitary.

He died on 7 June 1940, survived by his wife and one son. She was Vera Margaret French, daughter of Joseph J French, MD, whom he married on 16 June 1937. A martyr to asthma, Pattison had yet the courage and ability to establish the surgery of the nervous system on a sound and lasting basis in the north-east of England. He had great inventive power, was a clear thinker and a skilful craftsman. It was said of him that he had so delicate a touch as to be able to pass a catheter on a goldfish.

Unforeseen dangers of blood-transfusion. Newcastle med J 1931, 11, 170-178. Ventriculography and encephalography. Ibid 1933, 13, 90-103.
Tumours of the posterior cranial fossa occurring in childhood and adolescence. Ibid 1934, 14, 170-187.
Epilepsy as a surgical problem. Ibid 1935, 15, 145-160.
Considerations on head injuries. Ibid 1936, 16, 108-117.
Supracallosal epidermoid cholesteatomata. Lancet, 1937, 2, 4303-1307.
Surgical treatment of pituitary basophilism, with W G A Swan. Lancet, 1938, 1,1265-1269.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1940, 1, 1142, with portrait; Brit med J 1940, 1, 1073; Newcastle med J 1940, 20, 29-33; information given by Mrs Pattison].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England