|Description||Cooper was born at Brooke Hall in Brooke, Norfolk, England on 23 August 1768. At the age of sixteen he was sent to London and placed under Henry Cline (1750-1827), surgeon to St. Thomas' Hospital. From the first he devoted himself to the study of anatomy, and attended the lectures of John Hunter. In 1789 he was appointed demonstrator of anatomy at St. Thomas's Hospital, where in 1791 he became joint lecturer with Cline in anatomy and surgery, and in 1800 he was appointed surgeon to Guy's Hospital on the death of his uncle, William Cooper.|
In 1802 he received the Copley Medal for two papers read before the Royal Society of London on the destruction of the tympanic membrane; and in 1805 he was elected a Fellow of that society. In the same year he took an active part in the formation of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, and in 1804 he brought out the first, and in 1807 the second, part of his great work on hernia, which added so largely to his reputation that in 1813 his annual professional income rose to £21,000. In the same year he was appointed professor of comparative anatomy to the Royal College of Surgeons.
In 1817 he performed his famous operation of tying the abdominal aorta for aneurism; and in 1820 he removed an infected sebaceous cyst from the head of King George IV. About six months afterwards he received a baronetcy and was subsequently appointed sergeant surgeon to King George IV, King William IV and Queen Victoria. He served as president of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1827 and again in 1836, and he was elected a vice-president of the Royal Society in 1830. In 1821, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He died on 12 February 1841 in London, England, and was interred, by his own desire, beneath the chapel of Guy's Hospital. A statue by Edward Hodges Baily was erected in St Paul's Cathedral.
Sir Astley's greatest contribution has probably been in the field of vascular surgery, particularly on cerebral circulation. He was the first to demonstrate experimentally the effects of bilateral ligation of the carotid arteries in dogs and to propose treatment of aneurysms by ligation of the vessel. In 1805 he published in the first volume of Medico-Chirurgical Transactions his attempt to tie the common carotid artery for treating an aneurysm in a patient. In 1808 he tried the same with the external iliac artery for a femoral aneurysm and in 1817 he ligated the aorta for an iliac aneurysm.
His chief published works were Anatomy and Surgical Treatment of Hernia (1804-1807); Dislocations and Fractures (1822); Lectures on Surgery (1824-1827); Illustrations of Diseases of the Breast (1829); Anatomy of the Thymus Gland (1832); Anatomy of the Breast (1840).
Contents: Surgical Lectures, 1806-1807