Biography of Franz König
Franz König was the son of the physician and personal physician (Leibarzt) to the Landgraf von Hessen-Rotenburg. He studied in Marburg from 1851 and received his doctorate there in 1855. He then continued his studies in Berlin, particularly attending the lectures and clinics of Ludwig Traube (1818-1876) and Bernhard Rudolf Konrad von Langenbeck (1810-1887), and in 1856 passed the state examination in Kassel.
The same year he became assistant physician at the Kaltwasserheilanstalt (an institution for cold water therapy) of Dr. Pfeifer in Alexanderbad in the Fichtelgebirge. He then became assistant at the medical clinic in Heidelberg under Geheimrat Heusinger, and in 1857 once more went to Berlin to hear the lectures of Langenbeck and Albrecht von Graefe (1828-1870). He was 1858-1859 assistant at the surgical clinic in Marburg with Wilhelm Roser (1817-1888), 1859 practitioner in Homberg in Hessen, mainly practicing surgery. After passing his Physikatsexamen he became district wound surgeon (Amtswundarzt) in Hanau, where he received a thorough training in surgery at the local hospital, and worked scientifically.
Whilst in Hanau he published a number of clinical case reports as well as new operative approaches to problems in the lung and rectum. He became best known, however, for his work on joint resection. This work and the subsequent ten years of practice was the basis for his appointment as full professor of surgery at the University of Rostock, where he stayed until 1875 and began publication of his Spezielle Chirurgie, which first appeared in 1876. It later ran through numerous editions.
In 1866 König had participated in the campaign in Mainz, and in 1870/1871 he was consulting and executive surgeon at the Berlin Barackenlazarett on the Tempelhof square.
In 1875 he fell seriously ill with arthritis of the joints and only slowly recovered. The same year he accepted an appointment as professor of surgery at Göttingen, where he stayed for twenty years, deeply attached to the Hochshule and his clinic. In 1895 he accepted the call to succeed Heinrich Adolf von Bardeleben (1819-1895) at the surgical clinic of the Berlin Charité, where he taught until the new building for his clinic was completed. He retired in 1904, initially to Jena, but returned to Berlin, where he continued to take a prominent part in medical societies and meetings.
König was the author of a successful textbook on surgery which was published in many languages and described the disease to which his name is attached in 1905. He was a poor, perhaps boring speaker because he developed each problem in minute detail, but he was outstanding in clinical practice, always putting the patient first and treating clinic and private patients equally.
König demanded the same high standards of his colleagues and assistants, and in particular insisted that any operation, no matter how minor, be justified, berating those who did not do so. By some he was called the conscience of German surgery, by others he was heartily disliked for his almost tyrannical demarcations of what he considered ill-practice.
König was the first to use the term "osteochondritis dissecans".
Much of his written work concerns tuberculosis of the joints and bones.