Mayo Clinic Proceedings Home

Henri Mondor: Biographer and Surgeon

      Henri Mondor is recognized in medicine for his description of thrombophlebitis of the thoracoepigastric vein (Mondor's disease). He is most famous, however, as a biographer.
      Mondor was born at Saint-Cernin in 1885. He entered the Faculty of Medicine in Paris in 1903 and received his M.D. degree in 1909. World War I interrupted Mondor's surgical training (under the tutelage of Paul Lecène) but gave him extensive experience with emergency operations. He was among the first surgeons to emphasize that the mortality rate decreases when the interval between perforation and surgical closure is shortened. His book on emergency diagnosis, Diagnostics Urgents, underwent five editions. He wrote many articles on cancer of the rectum, perforation of viscera, gynecologic operations, and the value of roentgenography in emergency surgical procedures and was coeditor of the Journal de Chirurgie and Presse Médicale. Because of his expertise in teaching anatomy and symptomatology to medical students, he was appointed professor of surgical pathology and subsequently clinical professor of surgery at La Salpêtrière.
      After 1940, Mondor contributed less to the medical literature and instead devoted his evenings to nonsurgical writing. His medical biographies of Louis Pasteur, Guillaume Dupuytren, and René Leriche were well received. His long, carefully documented biography of the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé had undergone 37 editions at the time of Mondor's death. He wrote several works on the life of Paul Valéry, one of the most distinguished French poets of the early 20th century.
      Mondor died on Apr. 6, 1962, and was honored on a stamp issued by France in 1982.