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Fritz de Quervain

Born  1868
Died  1940

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Swiss surgeon, born May 4, 1868, Sion (German name Sitten) in the Valais Canton; died 1940.

Biography of Fritz de Quervain

Fritz de Quervain came of Huguenot stock. He completed his studies at the University of Bern as doctor of medicine in 1892, and subsequently was assistant at the physiological institute under Hugo Kronecker (1839-1914) from 1889 to 1891. From 1891 to 1892 he trained with Theodor Langhans (1839-1915) in the pathological institute, and 1892-1894 was surgical assistant in Emil Theodor Kocher’s (1841-1917) surgical clinic at the Inselspital.

In 1894 de Quervain settled as a surgeon in La Chaux-des-Fonds in the canton of Neuchâtel, and in 1897 became director of the surgical department of the hospital in that town. He was habilitated for surgery in Bern in 1902, becoming titular professor in 1907. In 1910 he assumed the chair of surgery at the University of Basel, and from 1918 was professor of surgery at the University of Bern as well as director of the Inselspital.

1919-1920 he was president of the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Chirurgie, 1923-1924 dean of the faculty, and 1935-1936 rector of the university. He retired in 1938.

De Quervain was a strong proponent of a general approach to the patient and teaching rather than an artificial division into specialist areas and brooked no opposition on this point. He was one of the earliest clinicians to appreciate that post operative pneumonia was often really a pulmonary infarct due to embolism.

De Quervain died of acute pancreatitis.

He published over 300 papers, many of which were devoted to thyroid disease, ranging from technical procedures on thyroidectomy to the epidemiology of thyroid disease. He introduced iodised table salt in the treatment of thyroid disease. His book on Special Surgical Diagnosis became one of the leading surgical textbooks of the day,

De Quervain was a collaborator in the eight edition of Ludwig Wullstein and Hermann Küttner: Lehrbuch der Chirurgie (Jena, 1923). This book was first published in Jena by Wullstein with Max Wilms (1867-1918) from 1908. 9th edition, 1923.


  • Chirurgische Klinik von Prof. Dr. Kocher zu Bern.
    Sommersemester 1891 edited by Otto Lanz and Fritz de Quervain Jena 1891
    It is an edited version of the clinical colloquia held by Theodor Kocher during the summer semester of 1891. At that time De Quervain was a medical student.
  • Enzyklopädie der Chirurgie.
    With Theodor Kocher. 2 volumes; Jena, 1901-1903.
  • Die akute, nicht eitrige thyreoiditis und die Beteiligung der Schilddrüse an akuten Intoxikationen und Infektionen überhaupt.
    Mittheilungen aus dem Grenzgebieten der Medizin und Chirurgie, supplement 2, Jena, 1904.
  • Spezielle chirurgische Diagnostik. Leipzig, 1907; 9th edition, 1931.
    Translated into English, French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.
  • La goître. Paris, 1923; translated into English.
  • Gesamtergebnis der Schweizerischen Statistik über Brustkrebs 1911-15.
    In: Statistik über den Brustkrebs in der Schweiz. H. 2. Bern-Berlin, 1930.
We thank Patrick Jucker-Kupper, Switzerland, for information submitted.

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