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William Williams Keen

William Williams Keen (January 19, 1837 - June 7, 1932) was the first U.S. brain surgeon.

Keen was born in Philadelphia. He studied at Brown University, where he graduated in 1859. He graduated in medicine from Jefferson Medical College in 1862. During the American Civil War, he worked for the U.S. Army as a surgeon. After the war, and two years of studies in Paris and Berlin, he started lecturing surgical pathology in Philadelphia, where he founded the Philadelphia School of Anatomy. He was the father of Dora Keen, the Alpinist.

He became known in the medical community around the world for inventing several new procedures in brain surgery, including drainage of the cerebral ventricles and removals of large brain tumors.

Keen also participated in a secret surgical operation to remove a cancerous jaw tumor on US President Grover Cleveland in 1893.

Keen died in Philadelphia.

Grandfather of Walter Jackson Freeman, the popularizer of the lobotomy in America.

Diagnosed Franklin Delano Roosevelt's polio. Worked closely with six American Presidents.

Honors and recognition

He received honorary degrees from Jefferson Medical College and Brown, Northwestern, Toronto, Edinburgh, Yale, St. Andrews, Greifswald, and Upsala universities, and served as president of the American Surgical Association (1898), the American Medical Association (1900), the Congress of American Physicians and Surgeons (1903), and the American Philosophical Society (after 1907). [1] In 1914, at a meeting of the International Surgical Association, he was elected president for the meeting of 1917. After 1894 he was foreign corresponding member of the Société de Chirurgie de Paris, the Société Belge de Chirurgie, and the Clinical Society of London; honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Chirurgie, the Palermo Surgical Society, and the Berliner Medicinische Gesellschaft, and associate fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. [2]

procedures and signs

  • Keen's operation — omphalectomy.
  • Keen's sign — increased diameter of the leg at the malleoli in Pott's fracture of the fibula.

Dorland's Medical Dictionary (1938 edition)


  • He published:
  • Clinical Charts of the Human Body (1870)
  • Early History of Practical Anatomy (1875)
  • Surgical Complications and Sequels of Typhoid Fever (1898)
  • Addresses and Other Papers (1905)
  • Animal Experimentation and Medical Progress (1914)
  • an edition of Heath's Practical Anatomy (1870)
  • the American edition of Gray's Anatomy (1887)
  • the American Text-Book of Surgery (1899, 1903)
  • Keen's System of Surgery (1905-13)
NAME Keen, William Williams
SHORT DESCRIPTION first U.S. brain surgeon.
DATE OF BIRTH January 19, 1837
PLACE OF BIRTH Philadelphia
DATE OF DEATH June 7, 1932
PLACE OF DEATH Philadelphia
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "William_Williams_Keen". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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