Percivall Pott

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Percivall Pott (17131788) was a surgeon in London, England. Apprenticed to a surgeon at the age of sixteen, he trained at St. Bartholomew's Hospital and worked there throughout his life, eventually becoming the greatest surgeon of his time. He described the cause and appearance of a particular type of fractured wrist, known ever since as Pott's fracture, and he was the first to describe the deformity of the spine caused by collapse of a vertebra due to tuberculosis, now known as Pott's disease. He is also known among public health scientists and epidemiologists for his observations and writings on chimney sweeps' cancer. Pott correctly deduced that the prevalence of cancer of the scrotum among chimney sweeps was associated with the coal tar that accumulated in the creases of the sweeps' scrotal skin. This, and his work on tuberculosis, made Pott a memorable figure in the field of public health, as well as in surgery.

John M. Last

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