John Murray Carnochan

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John Murray Carnochan
John Murray Carnochan.jpg
John Murray Carnochan
Born (1817-07-04)July 4, 1817
Savannah, Georgia, US
Died October 28, 1887(1887-10-28) (aged 70)
New York City, US
Nationality United States
Fields surgery
Known for trigeminal neuralgia

John Murray Carnochan (July 4, 1817 – October 28, 1887) was an American surgeon who performed the first successful neurosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia.


John Murray Carnochan, born in Savannah, was taken to Scotland in early boyhood and did not graduate from the University of Edinburgh Medical School. Returning to New York in 1834 he entered as a student the office of Valentine Mott and took his degree of M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Devoting himself with ardor to the study of anatomy, he acquired special distinction in that field and gave lectures to private classes. In 1841, he again visited Europe, where he passed several years attending clinical lectures of the principal hospitals of Paris, London and Edinburgh.[1] In 1847 he began practice in New York and in a short time his steadiness of nerve and boldness as an operator, gave him a high reputation as a surgeon. He later served during the war and for many years was professor of surgery of the New York Medical College. Although he was known for a dictatorial temper and consequently was on bad terms with his colleagues, he received liberal fees, wrote numerous technical monographs and died in fame. He married Estelle Morris, daughter of Major-General William Walton Morris who commanded at Fort McHenry during the Civil War. She was descended from Lewis Morris, signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. She died in New York City, on December 9, 1922, aged 84.[2]


Soon after beginning the practise of surgery in New York City, Carnochan attained a high reputation on account of his success in operations never before attempted. In 1852 he severed and tied the femoral artery, effecting a cure in an exaggerated case of nutrition (elephantiasis arabrum). The same year he removed an entire lower jaw, with both condyles. In 1854 he removed the entire ulna, and also the entire radius. In 1856 he cut down and removed the entire trunk of the second branch of the fifth pair of cranial nerves, the nerve being cut from the infra-orbital foramen to the foramen rotundum, at the base of the skull, involving an operation through the malar bone. The removal of this nerve had been decided upon to secure relief in a chronic case of neuralgia. It was entirely successful, and made the bold and accurate operator famous throughout the world. In 1851 he was appointed professor of surgery in the New York Medical College. He occupied other professional appointments, including that of surgeon-in-chief to the State Immigrant Hospital. He published Congenital Dislocations (1850) and Contributions to Operative Surgery and Surgical Pathology (1860, 1877–86).[3] His professional activity continued almost to the day of his death; so in September 1887, a month before he died, he attended the International Medical Congress at Washington and read two papers.[1]


  •  This article incorporates text from A biographical cyclopedia of medical history, by Bostock, John, 1773–1846; Moulton, Charles Wells, 1859–1913, a publication from 1905 now in the public domain in the United States.
  •  This article incorporates text from Biographical register of Saint Andrew's society of the state of New York, by MacBean, William M. (1852–1924), a publication from 1922 now in the public domain in the United States.
  •  This article incorporates text from Prominent families of New York; being an account in biographical form of individuals and families distinguished as representatives of the social, professional and civic life of New York city, a publication from 1897 now in the public domain in the United States.
  • Tubbs, R Shane; Loukas Marios; Shoja Mohammadali M; Cohen-Gadol Aaron A (Jan 2010). "John Murray Carnochan (1817–1887): the first description of successful surgery for trigeminal neuralgia". J. Neurosurg. United States. 112 (1): 199–201. PMID 19480543. doi:10.3171/2009.5.JNS09192. 

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