Ephraim McDowell (1771-1830)
Ephraim McDowell was an US abdominal surgeon who in 1809 performed one of the first successful ovarian surgeries. McDowell conducted his medical practice in Danville, Kentucky, where he used novel methods of ovariotomy to remove a twenty-two and a half pound ovarian tumor from his patient, Jane Crawford. At the time, surgeons performed ovariotomies by making an incision into each patient’s ovary to remove a mass. However, their patients often died from infection or blood loss. McDowell’s methods included making an incision into the abdominal muscles, draining the abdomen of blood, and using adhesives with sutures to close the wound. McDowell performed one of the first invasive abdominal surgeries in which the patient survived, and his surgical techniques established the potential safety and efficacy of ovarian and abdominal surgery in the 1800s.