Benjamin Felson

Dr Dan J Bell and A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

Benjamin "Benny" Felson (1913-1988) was a renowned Cincinnati chest radiologist who coined or popularised several of the most commonly-used terms in the everyday parlance of the English-speaking radiology community.  

Benjamin Felson was born in Newport, Kentucky on 21st October 1913 but soon after his family moved to Cincinnati where he attended school and the University of Cincinnati, earning his MD in 1935. He then went on to work at the Cincinnati General Hospital first as an intern and then as a radiology resident (at the time a three year course), followed by a one year fellowship in cancer therapy at the Indianapolis City Hospital 1. His brother, Henry Felson (1907-1998), was also a radiologist in Cincinnati.

He married Virginia Raphaelson in 1937 and had five children, Steve, Nancy, Mark, Richie and Eddie 6.

He joined the army in 1942 and from 1943-1945 he was Chief of Radiology of the 28th General Hospital in Europe. He reached the rank of major 6.

Returning home, after World War II, he started at the Cincinnati General Hospital in 1945 as an assistant professor, becoming Professor and Director of the radiology department in 1951, a position he held until 1973, after which time, he remained a Professor of radiology. He became Professor Emeritus in 1983, until his death from a myocardial infarction on October 22nd 1988 1,4

He was always renowned for his excellent teaching and his superlative interpretive skills at the light box.

He was the author of five books, over 150 papers and founded the journal Seminars in Roentgenology. His lectures and writings were notable for their humour and his literary pursuits resulted in the publication of a collection of essays on Humour in Medicine.

"He was certainly the greatest radiologist of his time, and perhaps of all time. He was one of the great men of the century...More than anyone else, he enhanced the reputation and knowledge of the fledgling speciality of Radiology through his inquisitiveness and his gift for communication with the written and spoken word ", Maurice Reeder 5.

Benjamin Felson retains significant name recognition amongst the global radiology community despite his death 30 years ago, reasons include:

  • perpetual popularity of signs such as Aunt Minnie and the silhouette sign, which he popularised, but did not coin
  • he wrote Fundamentals of Chest Roentgenology, later renamed Chest Roentgenology, a classic text, which remains in print today (2018)
  • Reeder and Felson's Gamuts in Radiology, first published in 1975, was an instant classic
  • founding editor of the Seminars in Roentgenology
  • Benjamin Felson Chair in Radiology, established in 1987 by his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati 4
History of radiology
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Article information

rID: 29894
System: Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Ben Felson
  • Benny Felson
  • Dr B Felson

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