History of anesthesia in Germany
Wawersik J.
Department of Anesthesiology,
University Hospital, Kiel, Germany.
J Clin Anesth 1991 May;3(3):235-244


The first ether anesthetic was administered in Germany by J.F. Heyfelder (1798-1869) at the Erlangen University Hospital on January 24, 1847. Thereafter, famous discoveries occurred in the field of pharmacology. Albert Niemann isolated cocaine from the coca shrub in 1860; Emil Fischer synthesized the first barbiturate, Veronal, in 1902; and Helmut Weese promoted the first ultra-short-acting barbiturate, hexobarbital (Evipan), in 1932. The local anesthetic effect of cocaine was reported by Koller at the Congress of the German Society for Ophthalmology on September 15, 1884, in Heidelberg. Many new techniques were tried first in German hospitals. Friedrich Trendelenburg carried out, by tracheotomy, the first operation with endotracheal intubation in 1869, and Franz Kuhn promoted and clinically practiced endotracheal intubation in Heidelberg beginning in 1900. August Bier performed the first operation under spinal anesthesia at the Kiel University Hospital on August 16, 1898. Carl Ludwig Schleich (1859-1922) standardized the methods of infiltration anesthesia by using a cocaine solution in sufficient dilution. The development of anesthesia machines was greatly influenced by Heinrich Drager (1847-1917) and his son Bernhard Drager (1870-1928). The Drager Company in Lubeck built the first anesthesia machine with a carbon dioxide (CO2) absorber and circle system in 1925. Paul Sudeck and Helmut Schmidt worked with this system at the Hamburg University Hospital and reported their results in 1926. The first Drager anesthesia machine was produced in 1902 and introduced into clinical use by Otto Roth (1863-1944) in Lubeck. Before the Second World War, three universities in Germany carried out research in the field of anesthesia: the University of Freiburg with H. Killian, the University of Hamburg with P. Sudeck and H. Schmidt, and the University of Wurzburg with C.G. Gauss. Killian and Gauss established the first journals, Der Schmerz and Narkose und Anaesthesie, in 1928. After the Second World War, the field of anesthesia in Germany rapidly regained international standards. The journal Der Anaesthesist was founded in 1952, and the German Society for Anesthesiology and Intensive Medicine was established in 1953.

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