William Stokes (physician)

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For the Irish surgeon, see William Stokes (surgeon).
For other people named William Stokes, see William Stokes (disambiguation).
William Stokes
William Stokes (1804 - 1878).jpg
William Stokes
Born 1 October 1804
Dublin, Ireland, United Kingdom
Died 10 January 1878 (1878-01-11) (aged 73)
Howth, Ireland, United Kingdom
Citizenship British
Nationality Irish
Fields medicine
Institutions University of Dublin
Known for Cheyne–Stokes respiration
Stokes–Adams syndrome
A Treatise on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases of the Chest

William Stokes (1 October 1804 – 10 January 1878) was an Irish physician, who was Regius Professor of Physic at the University of Dublin. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh Medical School with an MD in 1825 later returning the practice in Dublin at Meath Hospital. he went on to create two important works on cardiac and pulmonary diseases – A Treatise on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases of the Chest (1837) and The Diseases of the Heart and Aorta (1854) – as well as one of the first treatises on the use of the stethoscope. He emphasised the importance of clinical examination in forming diagnoses, and of ward-based learning for students of medicine.

Both Cheyne–Stokes breathing (the alternation of apnoea with tachypnoea) and Stokes–Adams syndrome are named after him. Stokes' sign is a severe throbbing in the abdomen, at the right of the umbilicus, in acute enteritis. Stokes law is that a muscle situated above an inflamed membrane is often affected with paralysis.

In 1858 he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In June 1861 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society as: "The Author of A work on the Diseases of the Lungs, and of a work on the Diseases of the Heart and Aorta – and of other contributions to Pathological Science. Eminent as a Physician".[1] He was elected President of the Royal Irish Academy for 1874–76.[2]

His son, Whitley Stokes, was a notable lawyer and Celtic scholar, his daughter Margaret Stokes an archaeologist and writer.


  1. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "Stokes,William". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 

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