- Eponymously associated with the Colles Fracture
- His extensive anatomy dissection and work in the perineum and inguinal region led to the Colles fascia and Colles ligament
- Undertook research into the treatment of syphilis with mercury and hypothesized on the apparent immunity of a mother born with a syphilitic child (Colles Law).
“Be assured, that no man can know his profession perfectly, who knows nothing else; and that he who aspires to eminence in any particular science must first acquire the habit of philosophising on matters of science in general.” – Colles A. Treatise on Surgical Anatomy, 1811
- Born 23 July 1773, Millmount near Kilkenny
- 1795 – Bachelor of Arts, Trinity College Dublin. Given a license to practice by the college of surgeons.
- 1797 – MD, Edinburgh Medical School
- 1802 – President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (age 29)
- 1804 – Professor of surgery and professor of anatomy and physiology
- Died 16 November 1843
Key Medical Attributions:
- Hypothesised about the maternal immunity to syphilis when giving birth a a child suffering from syphilis, known as Colles Law, and described the treatment of syphilis with mercury. [A child born to a mother who has no signs of venereal symptoms, and presents with this disease at the age of a few weeks, will infect the healthiest nursemaid, but not its mother.] – However, his conclusion was wrong, as the mother would already have been infected with syphillis but not manifesting clinical symptoms at birth
- Colles’ fracture
- Colles fascia – deep layer of the superficial perineal fascia. Described in 1811, the middle fascia of the urogenital triangle the attachments of which served to confine within strict limits extravasation of urine from a ruptured urethra
- Colles Space – Space located below the perineal fascia and containing the transverse muscles of the perineum, ischiocavernosus and bulbocavernosus, the scrotal or labial nerves and vessels and the bulbar portion of the urethra.
- Colles ligament – small triangular fascia that springs from the pubic crest and ilio-pectineal line and passes upwards and inwards towards the Linea alba under cover of the internal pillar of the external abdominal ring.
- Colles A. A treatise on surgical anatomy. 1811
- Colles A. On the fracture of the carpal extremity of the radius. Edinb Med Surg J. 1814;10:181. In: Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2006 Apr;445:5-7. [PMID 16601406]
- Colles A. On the Operation of tying the Subclavian Artery. Edinb Med Surg J. 1815;11:1-25.
- Colles A. Practical observations on the venereal disease, and on the use of mercury. 1837
- Hayden GT in 1837, referenced Colles as completing the first surgery for an axillary aneurysm (performed by ligating the first part of the subclavian artery), however the patient died 13 days later. Colles blamed the patient moving about:
‘The perverseness and obstinacy of my patient, in this respect, were most deplorable, for she would, in despite all our entreaties and warnings, move about, perfectly reckless of consequences.‘
- Pearson E. The complete doctor: Abraham Colles. RCSI People Vol 1, 1 2008
- Fresquet JL. Abraham Colles (1773-1843). Historia de la Medicina.
- Fallon, M. Abraham Colles 1773-1843, Heinemann. 1972.
- Memoir of A. Colles. The Dublin University Magazine: A Literary and Political Journal, Volume 23, June 1844. pp687-690 [Archive text]
- Hayden GT. Mr Hayden’s case of aneurism. Lancet 7 October 1837; 29,736:47-50.
LITFL Related Links
- Biographical Medical Eponyms – A-Z of eponymous medical pioneers
- Eponymictionary – Searchable Eponymictionary Database
- Medical Eponyms – A-Z of signs, syndromes, diseases and classifications
- Orthopaedic Eponyms – Eponymous orthopedic fractures and classifications
- Cardiac Eponyms – Eponymous cardiology collection