Skip to main content

Joaquín María Albarrán y Domínguez

Cuban-born and nominated for a Nobel Prize in 1912

Joaquín Albarrán (1860 - 1912) was born in Sagua-Grande a small village in Spanish Cuba on 9 May 1860. He was orphaned at the age of 9 years and adopted by Dr Fabregas, a Spanish surgeon, with whom he moved to Barcelona.

Here he studied for his licentiate in medicine which he achieved at the early age of 17. He then completed his medical studies in Madrid, attaining his degree of Doctor of Medicine and winning a Gold Medal for his thesis on tuberculosis.

After moving to Paris and initially working as a histologist and microbiologist, he then worked with Louis Pasteur. He subsequently became a surgical intern in 1884 and worked with Félix Guyon. In 1906, he succeeded Guyon as Director of the Department of Urology in Hôpital Necker.

Albarrán was the first surgeon in France to carry out perineal prostatectomy for prostate carcinoma. He simplified the technique of ureteric catheterization firstly using an onglet called the "Nail of Albarrán". He modified a device originally designed by Armand Imbert which is still used today and known as the Albarrán's lever.

He also described Albarrán's glands of the prostate and Albarrán–Ormond syndrome, inflammatory retroperitoneal fibrosis of unknown etiology resulting in ureteric obstruction. Albarrán’s sign is ureteric haemorrhage seen when fluid is injected into the renal pelvis to distend it, suggesting the presence of a renal pelvic cancer.

He obtained, on three occasions, the Godard prize from the French Medical Academy and was also awarded the Tremblay Prize. He was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 1912.

Joaquín Albarrán died in Paris on 17 January 1912 from tuberculosis, at the age of only 52. It is said that he was inadvertently cut and infected by a scalpel that he was using to dissect a kidney he had removed for renal tuberculosis.

Papers and articles about Joaquín Albarrán

Biographical Article
Joaquín Maria Albarrán Y Dominguez: microbiologist, histologist and urologist - a lifetime from orphan in Cuba to Nobel nominee. Casey RG & Thornhill JS. International Journal of Urology (2006), 13, 1159 - 1161

Download this article

← Back to Books & Articles on People in Urology


Cuba    France    prostate