Benjamin Alcock

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Benjamin Alcock (1801 – ?) was an Irish anatomist. He is remembered for his description of the pudendal nerve sheath, which came to be known as Alcock's canal, and an associated disease, Alcock's canal syndrome, also known as pudendal nerve entrapment or pudendal neuralgia.[1]

Born in Kilkenny, Ireland, he was the youngest of the five children of a noted doctor, Nathaniel Alcock. He became an accomplished anatomist working for some time under the leading Irish surgeon, Abraham Colles. After studying at Kilkenny College, he studied anatomy at Dublin's Trinity College graduating in 1821.

In 1825 Alcock became a licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and gained his master's degree from the University of Dublin in 1827. He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons later that year. He had begun teaching in 1825 working firstly as a Demonstrator of Anatomy and then as a teacher of anatomy from 1836. In 1837 Alcock became the first Professor of anatomy, physiology and pathology at Queen's College, Cork working there for more than ten years at the Apothecaries' Hall. When the medical school opened there in 1849 he took up the post of Professor of anatomy.

However, he was only there for a few years when he was asked to resign in 1854. This came about after a major disagreement that he had with the school's administration concerning the procurement of corpses, (following the passing of the Anatomy Act 1832). In brief, a scarcity of available corpses had led to the school's suggestion that Alcock pretend to be connected to people who had died in the workhouse and thereby able to claim their bodies (for disposal). For his stance against taking part in such dishonesty he was asked for his resignation, which he gave in 1854. However he appealed against this resignation request which was unsuccessful and so he was dismissed in 1855. A few years later in 1859, with no employment or employment prospects in Ireland, he left for America and was not heard of again.


  1. ^ Oelhafen, Kim; Shayota, Brian J.; Muhleman, Mitchel; Klaassen, Zachary; Tubbs, R. Shane; Loukas, Marios (2013-09-01). "Benjamin Alcock (1801-?) and his canal". Clinical Anatomy. 26 (6): 662–666. doi:10.1002/ca.22080. ISSN 1098-2353. PMID 22488487.