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Thomas Hollier

Skilled lithotomist who operated on Samuel Pepys

Thomas Hollier (1609 - 1690) was born in Coventry. From 1629, he trained in London as a surgeon working at both Bart's and St Thomas’s Hospitals.

He is famous for operating on Samuel Pepys in 1658, to remove a large bladder stone. In 1662, Hollier carried out 30 consecutive lithotomies for bladder stones without losing a single patient: he then had four consecutive post-operative deaths and Pepys, in fact, attended the funeral of one of these unfortunate patients.

He became a close friend of Samuel Pepys together with Robert Boyle and, on the anniversary of his bladder stone removal, Pepys hosted a dinner for his close friends and his surgeon to celebrate his survival. 

Hollier's portrait hangs at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Claire Tomalin, in her biography "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self" gives a detailed description of the lithotomy procedure performed by Thomas Hollier:

The surgeon got to work. First he inserted a thin silver instrument, the itinerarium, through the penis into the bladder to help position the stone. Then he made the incision, about three inches long and a finger's breadth from the line running between scrotum and anus, and into the neck of the bladder, or just below it. The patient's face was sponged as the incision was made. The stone was sought, found and grasped with pincers; the more speedily it could be got out the better. Once out, the wound was not stitched - it was thought best to let it drain and cicatrize itself - but simply washed and covered with a dressing, or even kept open at first with a small roll of soft cloth known as a tent, dipped in egg white. A plaster of egg yolk, rose vinegar and anointing oils was then applied.

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bladder    Coventry    endourology    London    stones