Allen B. Kanavel

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Allen B. Kanavel (1874, Sedgwick, Kansas – 1938 Pasadena, California) was an American surgeon remembered for describing Kanavel's sign. He graduated from the Northwestern University School of Medicine in 1899. He spent six months in Vienna, then spent his career at Cook County Hospital and the department of surgery at Northwestern University School of Medicine. He became professor of surgery at Northwestern in 1919, and was associate editor and later editor of the Journal of Surgery, Gynaecology and Obstetrics. In 1920 he established the Department of Neurological Surgery at Northwestern University and was named Chairman of the department.[1] He worked with the United States Army during the First World War, both in the Surgeon General's office in Washington, DC and in France in 1918 as assistant to the Chief Consultant in surgery of the American Expeditionary Force. His interest was infections of the hand, and his 1912 mongraph on the subject was considered a milestone in hand surgery.[2]

Dr. Kanavel died in 1938 in Pasadena, California in a tragic car accident. His adopted sons Richard and David were also in the car, but escaped relatively unharmed. They were on their way to go fishing.


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  2. ^ Barry G. Firkin, Judith A. Whitworth. Dictionary of Medical Eponyms, second edition, page 202. Parthenon Publishing Group 1996. ISBN 1-85070-477-5.